Use of performance-enhancing drugs in the Olympic Games

Use of performance-enhancing drugs in the Olympic Games

The use of PEDs has had a long history at the Olympic Games. Its origins can be traced even back to the Ancient Olympics where Olympians would eat lizard meat prepared a special way, in the hopes that it would give them an athletic edge.[1] The first documented use of drugs to improve an athlete's performance was the winner of the 1904 marathon, Thomas Hicks. The use of performance enhancing medication has also been attributed to one death during Olympic competition.[2] As rumors of rampant drug use by athletes began to spread the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided to act. By 1967, the IOC had banned the use of performance enhancing drugs in Olympic competition. The IOC introduced the first drug use controls at the 1968 Winter Olympics.

These controls eventually evolved into a systematic testing regimen that all Olympic athletes must adhere to. Testing of athletes for performance enhancing drugs includes both urine and blood tests. As of 1999 the authoritative body on the use of performance enhancing drugs is the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). This organization oversees the testing of athletes for several sports federations and the Olympic Games. As the creators of these drugs continue to improve their sophistication, potency and transparency, WADA and its constituency also innovate new ways to detect these drugs. Athletes continue to use various medical modifications to their body as a means of improving their athletic performance.



The use of performance enhancing tactics, and more broadly, the use of any external device to nefariously influence the outcome of a sporting event has been a part of the Olympics since its inception in Ancient Greece. One speculation as to why men were required to compete naked was to prevent the use of extra acoutraments and to keep women from competing in events specifically designed for men.[3] Athletes were also known to drink "magic" potions and eat exotic meats in the hopes of given them an athletic edge on their competition.[1] If they were caught cheating, their likenesses were often engraved into stone and placed in a pathway that led to the Olympic stadium.[3] In the modern Olympic era, chemically enhancing one's performance has evolved into a sophisticated science, but in the early years of the Modern Olympic movement the use of performance enhancing drugs was almost as crude as its ancient predecessors.

During the early 20th century, many Olympic athletes discovered ways to chemically improve their athletic abilities. For example, the winner of the marathon at the 1904 Games, Thomas Hicks, was given strychnine and brandy by his coach, even during the race.[4] As these methods became more extreme, it became increasingly evident that the use of performance enhancing drugs was not only a threat to the integrity of sport but could also have potentially fatal side effects on the athlete. The only Olympic death linked to athletic drug use occurred at the Rome Games of 1960. During the cycling road race, Danish cyclist Knud Enemark Jensen fell from his bicycle and later died. A coroner's inquiry found that he was under the influence of amphetamines, which had caused him to lose consciousness during the race.[2] Jensen's death exposed to the world how endemic drug use was among elite athletes.[5] By the mid–1960s, sports federations were starting to ban the use of performance enhancing drugs, and the IOC followed suit in 1967.[6]

The first Olympic athlete to test positive for the use of performance enhancing drugs was Hans-Gunnar Liljenwall, a Swedish pentathlete at the 1968 Summer Olympics, who lost his bronze medal for alcohol use.[7] Liljenwall was the only athlete to test positive for a banned substance at the 1968 Olympics, as the technology and testing techniques improved, the number of athletes discovered to be chemically enhancing their performance increased as well.

Kornelia Ender

The most brazen case of systematic drug use for athletic achievement is that of the East German Olympic teams of the 1970s and 1980s. In 1990, documents were discovered that showed many East German female athletes, especially swimmers, had been administered anabolic steroids and other drugs by their coaches and trainers. Girls as young as eleven were started on the drug regimen without consent from their parents. American female swimmers, including Shirley Babashoff, accused the East Germans of using performance enhancing drugs as early as the 1976 Summer Games.[8] Babashoff's comments were dismissed by the international and domestic media as sour grapes since Babashoff, a clear favorite to win multiple gold medals, won three silver medals - losing all three times to either Kornelia Ender or Petra Thümer (both from East Germany), and one gold medal in a relay. There was no suspicion of cheating on the part of the East German female swimmers even though their medal tally increased from four silvers and one bronze in 1972 to ten golds (out of a possible twelve), six silvers, and one bronze in 1976. No clear evidence was discovered until after the fall of the Berlin Wall, when the aforementioned documents proved that East Germany had embarked on a state-sponsored drug regimen to dramatically improve their competitiveness at the Olympic Games and other international sporting events. Many of the East German authorities responsible for this program have been subsequently tried and found guilty of various crimes in the German penal system.[9][10]

A very publicized steroid-related disqualification at an Olympic Games was the case of Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson, who won the 100 meter dash at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, but tested positive for stanozolol. His gold medal was subsequently stripped and awarded to runner-up Carl Lewis, who himself had tested positive for banned substances prior to the Olympics, but had not been banned due to a lack of consistency in the application of the rules. At that time National Olympic Committees had leeway to determine whether a specific athlete met the criteria to be banned from Olympic competition.[11]

Current response

In the late 1990s, the IOC took the initiative in a more organized battle against doping, leading to the formation of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in 1999. The 2000 Summer Olympics and 2002 Winter Olympics have shown that the effort to eliminate performance enhancing drugs from the Olympics is not over, as several medalists in weightlifting and cross-country skiing were disqualified due to failing a drug test. During the 2006 Winter Olympics, only one athlete failed a drug test and had a medal revoked. The IOC-established drug testing regimen (now known as the "Olympic Standard") has set the worldwide benchmark that other sporting federations attempt to emulate.[12] During the Beijing games, 3,667 athletes were tested by the IOC under the auspices of the World Anti-Doping Agency. Both urine and blood testing was used in a coordinated effort to detect banned substances recent blood transfusions. While several athletes were barred from competition by their National Olympic Committees prior to the Games, six athletes failed drug tests while in competition in Beijing.[13][14] What follows is a list of all the athletes that have tested positive for a banned substance either during or after an Olympic Games in which they competed. Any medals listed were revoked by the IOC.

Prohibited drugs

Summer Olympic Games

1968 Mexico City

Name Country Sport Banned substance Medals
Hans-Gunnar Liljenwall Sweden Modern pentathlon Ethanol 3 (team)

1972 Munich

Name Country Sport Banned substance Medals
Bakhaavaa Buidaa Mongolia Judo Caffeine 2 (71 kg)
Miguel Coll Puerto Rico Basketball Ephedrine
Rick DeMont United States Swimming Ephedrine 1 (400 m freestyle)
Jaime Huelamo Spain Cycling Coramine 3 (individual road race)
Walter Legel Austria Weightlifting Amphetamine
Mohammad Reza Nasehi Iran Weightlifting Ephedrine
Aad van den Hoek Netherlands Cycling Coramine 3 (100 km team race)

1976 Montreal

Name Country Sport Banned substance Medals
Blagoi Blagoev Bulgaria Weightlifting Anabolic steroid 2 (82.5 kg)
Mark Cameron United States Weightlifting Anabolic steroid
Paul Cerutti Monaco Shooting Amphetamine
Dragomir Ciorosian Romania Weightlifting Fencanfamine
Philippe Grippaldi United States Weightlifting Anabolic steroid
Zbigniew Kaczmarek Poland Weightlifting Anabolic steroid 1 (67.5 kg)
Valentin Khristov Bulgaria Weightlifting Anabolic steroid 1 (100 kg)
Lorne Liebel Canada Sailing Phenylpropanolamine
Arne Norrback Sweden Weightlifting Anabolic steroid
Peter Pavlasek Czechoslovakia Weightlifting Anabolic steroid
Danuta Rosani Poland Athletics Anabolic steroid

1980 Moscow

No athletes were caught doping at these Games.

1984 Los Angeles

Name Country Sport Banned substance Medals
Serafim Grammatikopoulos Greece Weightlifting Nandrolone
Vésteinn Hafsteinsson Iceland Athletics Nandrolone
Tomas Johansson Sweden Wrestling Methenolone 2 (super-heavy)
Stefan Laggner Austria Weightlifting Nandrolone
Göran Petersson Sweden Weightlifting Nandrolone
Eiji Shimomura Japan Volleyball Testosterone
Mikiyasu Tanaka Japan Volleyball Ephedrine
Ahmed Tarbi Algeria Weightlifting Nandrolone
Mahmud Tarha Lebanon Weightlifting Nandrolone
Gianpaolo Urlando Italy Athletics Testosterone
Martti Vainio Finland Athletics Methenolone 2 (10,000 m)
Anna Verouli Greece Athletics Nandrolone

1988 Seoul

Name Country Sport Banned substance Medals
Alidad Afghanistan Wrestling Furosemide
Kerrith Brown Great Britain Judo Furosemide
Kalman Csengeri Hungary Weightlifting Stanozolol
Mitko Grablev Bulgaria Weightlifting Furosemide 1 (56 kg)
Angell Guenchev Bulgaria Weightlifting Furosemide 1 (67.5 kg)
Ben Johnson Canada Athletics Stanozolol 1 (100 m)
Fernando Mariaca Spain Weightlifting Pemoline
Jorge Quesada Spain Modern pentathlon Propanolol
Andor Szanyi Hungary Weightlifting Stanozolol 2 (100 kg)
Alexander Watson Australia Modern Pentathlon Caffeine

1992 Barcelona

Name Country Sport Banned substance Medals
Madina Biktagirova Unified Team Athletics Norephedrine
Bonnie Dasse United States Athletics Clenbuterol
Jud Logan United States Athletics Clenbuterol
Nijolė Medvedeva Lithuania Athletics Meziocarde
Wu Dan China Volleyball Strychnine

1996 Atlanta

Name Country Sport Banned substance Medals
Iva Prandzheva Bulgaria Athletics Metadienone
Natalya Shekhodanova Russia Athletics Stanozolol

2000 Sydney

Name Country Sport Banned substance Medals
Fritz Aanes Norway Wrestling Norandrosterone and noretiochdandone
Ashot Danielyan Armenia Weightlifting Stanozolol 3 (+105 kg)
Izabela Dragneva Bulgaria Weightlifting Furosemide 1 (48 kg)
Stian Grimseth Norway Weightlifting Nandrolone
Ivan Ivanov Bulgaria Weightlifting Furosemide 2 (56 kg)
Alexander Leipold Germany Wrestling Nandrolone 1 (76 kg)
Sevdalin Minchev Bulgaria Weightlifting Furosemide 3 (62 kg)
Oyunbileg Purevbaatar Mongolia Wrestling Furosemide
Andreea Răducan Romania Gymnastics Pseudophedrine[15] 1 (individual all-round)
Andris Reinholds Latvia Rowing Nandrolone
Antonio Pettigrew United States Athletics EPO and HGH 1 (4 x 400 m relay)
Marion Jones United States Athletics THG 1 (100 m), 1 (200 m), 1 (4 x 400m relay), 3 (long jump), 3 (4 x 100 m relay)

2004 Athens

Name Country Sport Banned substance Medals
Wafa Ammouri Morocco Weightlifting Anabolic steroid
Adrián Annus Hungary Athletics Falsified test result 1 (hammer throw)
Andrew Brack Greece Baseball Stanozolol
Viktor Chislean Moldova Weightlifting Anabolic steroid
Róbert Fazekas Hungary Athletics Missed the test 1 (discus throw)
Mabel Fonseca Puerto Rico Wrestling Stanozolol
Anton Galkin Russia Athletics Stanozolol
Ferenc Gyurkovics Hungary Weightlifting Oxanfrolone 2 (105 kg)
Zoltan Kecskes Hungary Weightlifting Anabolic steroid
Konstantinos Kenteris Greece Athletics Missed the test
Albina Khomic Russia Weightlifting Testosterone
Aye Khine Nan Myanmar Weightlifting Anabolic steroid
Irina Korzhanenko Russia Athletics Stanozolol 1 (shot put)
Zoltan Kovacs Hungary Weightlifting Missed the test
Pratima Kumari Na India Weightlifting Anabolic steroid
Aleksey Lesnichiy Belarus Athletics Clenbuterol
David Munyasia Kenya Boxing Cathine
Derek Nicholson Greece Baseball Diuretic
Cian O'Connor Ireland Equestrian Antipsychotics (to horse Waterford Crystal) 1 (individual jumping)
Olena Olefirenko Ukraine Rowing Ethamivan 3 (coxless four)
Leonidas Sampanis Greece Weightlifting Testosterone 3 (62 kg)
Thinbaijam Sanamcha Chanu India Weightlifting Furosemide
Mital Sharipov Kyrgyzstan Weightlifting Furosemide
Olga Shchukina Uzbekistan Athletics Clenbuterol
Sahbaz Sule Turkey Weightlifting Anabolic steroid
Ekaterini Thanou Greece Athletics Missed the test
Ludger Beerbaum Germany Show Jumping Betamethasone (to horse Goldfever) 1 (team jumping)

2008 Beijing

"Zero Tolerance for Doping" was adopted as an official slogan for the Beijing Olympic Games.[16] A number of athletes were already eliminated by testing prior to coming to Beijing.[16]

Out of the 4,500 samples that were collected from participating athletes at the games, six athletes with positive specimens were ousted from the competition. It is possible that further positive tests may still be found as samples are sealed and frozen for eight years. It is unclear who remains in charge of these samples, the host or the IOC. The quality of testing was questioned when the BBC reported that samples positive for EPO were labeled as negative by Chinese laboratories in July.[17] The rate of positive findings is lower than at Athens four years ago, but it cannot be deduced that the prevalence of doping has decreased; possibly, doping technology has become more sophisticated and a number of drugs cannot be detected.[16][17][18]

Name Country Sport Banned substance Medals
Maria Isabel Moreno Spain Cycling Erythropoietin[19]
Kim Jong Su North Korea Shooting Propranolol 3 (10 m air pistol),2 (50 m pistol)
Do Thi Ngan Thuong Vietnam Gymnastics Furosemide
Fani Halkia Greece Athletics Methyltrienolone[20]
Lyudmila Blonska Ukraine Athletics Methyltestosterone[21] 2 (heptathlon)
Igor Razoronov Ukraine Weightlifting Nandrolone[22]
Bernardo Alves Brazil Equestrian Capsaicin
Rodrigo Pessoa Brazil Equestrian Nonivamide
Christian Ahlmann Germany Equestrian Capsaicin
Denis Lynch Ireland Equestrian Capsaicin
Tony André Hansen Norway Equestrian Capsaicin 3 (team jumping)
Courtney King United States Equestrian Felbinac
Adam Seroczyński Poland Canoeing Clenbuterol
Rashid Ramzi Bahrain Athletics CERA[23] 1 (1500 m)
Davide Rebellin Italy Cycling CERA[23] 2 (Men's road race)
Stefan Schumacher Germany Cycling CERA[23]
Vanja Perisic Croatia Athletics CERA[23]
Athanasia Tsoumeleka Greece Athletics CERA[23]

Winter Olympic Games

1968 Grenoble

No athletes were caught doping at these Games.

1972 Sapporo

Name Country Sport Banned substance Medals
Alois Scholder West Germany Ice hockey Ephedrine

1976 Innsbruck

Name Country Sport Banned substance Medals
Galina Kulakova Soviet Union Cross-country skiing Ephedrine Template:Bronzebonner3 (5 km)
Frantisek Pospisil Czechoslovakia Ice hockey Codeine

1980 Lake Placid

No athletes were caught using performance enhancing drugs at these Games.

1984 Sarajevo

Name Country Sport Banned substance Medals
Batsukh Purevjal Mongolia Cross-country skiing Anabolic steroid

1988 Calgary

Name Country Sport Banned substance Medals
Jaroslaw Morawiecki Poland Ice hockey Testosterone

1992 Albertville

No athletes were caught using performance enhancing drugs at these Games

1994 Lillehammer

No athletes were caught using performance enhancing drugs at these Games

1998 Nagano

No athletes were caught using performance enhancing drugs at these Games

2002 Salt Lake City

Name Country Sport Banned substance Medals
Alain Baxter Great Britain Alpine skiing Methamphetamine 3 (slalom)
Olga Danilova Russia Cross-country skiing Darbepoetin 1 (10 km pursuit), 2 (10 km)
Larisa Lazutina Russia Cross-country skiing Darbepoetin 1 (30 km), 1 (10 km), 2 (15 km freestyle)
Marc Meyer Austria Cross-country skiing Use of blood transfusion equipment
Johann Mühlegg Spain Cross-country skiing Darbepoetin 1 (50 km), 1 (30 km freestyle), 1 (20 km pursuit)
Vasily Pankov Belarus Ice hockey Nandrolone
Achim Walcher Austria Cross-country skiing Use of blood transfusion equipment

2006 Turin

Name Country Sport Banned substance Medals
Olga Pyleva Russia Biathlon Carphedon 2 (15 km)

2010 Vancouver

Name Country Sport Banned substance Medals
Kornelia Marek Poland Cross-country skiing Erythropoietin[24]

See also


  1. ^ a b Lovgren, Stefan. "Ancient Olympics mixed Naked Sports, Pagan Partying". National Geographic Society. Retrieved 2009-01-05. 
  2. ^ a b "A Brief History of Anti-Doping". World Anti-Doping Agency. Retrieved 2008-09-10. 
  3. ^ a b Gibson, Candace. "How the First Olympics Worked". Discovery Communications. Retrieved 2009-01-05. 
  4. ^ "Tom Hicks". Retrieved 2008-08-27. 
  5. ^ Maraniss, David (2008). Rome 1960. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 1-4165-3407-5. 
  6. ^ Begley, Sharon (2008-01-07). "The Drug Charade". Newsweek. Retrieved 2008-08-27. 
  7. ^ "Hans-Gunnar Liljenwall". Retrieved 2008-08-28. 
  8. ^ Brennan, Christine (2004-07-14). "Babashoff had Mettle to Speak out about Steroids". USA Today. Retrieved 2008-08-28. 
  9. ^ Longman, Jere (2001-04-22). "Just Following Orders, Doctors' Orders". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-08-28. 
  10. ^ "Sports Doping Statistics Reach Plateau in Germany". Deutsche Welle. 2006-02-26.,2144,786574,00.html. Retrieved 2008-08-28. 
  11. ^ Magnay, Jacquelin (2003-04-18). "Carl Lewis's positive test covered up". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2008-08-28. 
  12. ^ Coile, Zachary (2005-04-27). "Bill Seeks to Toughen Drug Testing in Pro Sports". San Francisco Chornicle. Retrieved 2008-09-03. 
  13. ^ "Doping: 3667 athletes tested, IOC seeks action against Halkia's coach". Express India Newspapers. 2008-08-19. Retrieved 2008-08-28. 
  14. ^ "A Brief History of Anti-Doping". World Anti-Doping Agency. Retrieved 2008-08-28. 
  15. ^ Associated Press (September 26, 2000). "Raducan tests positive for stimulant". ESPN. 
  16. ^ a b c "Beijing Faces Big Challenge in Keeping Olympics Drug-Free". Deutsche Welle. 08-03-2008.,2144,3530852,00.html. 
  17. ^ a b McGrath, Matt (2008-07-21). "Concerns over Olympic drug test". BBC. 
  18. ^ KNA; Reuters (2008-08-23). "Ukrainischer Gewichtheber Razoronov positiv getestet". Der Spiegel.,1518,573934,00.html. 
  19. ^ "Spanish cyclist Moreno tests positive for EPO". 11 August 2008. 
  20. ^ "Greek champion fails drugs test". BBC Sport. 17 August 2008. 
  21. ^ "Blonska stripped of silver medal". BBC Sport. 22 August 2008. 
  22. ^ "Ukrainian lifter fails dope test". BBC Sport. 23 August 2008. 
  23. ^ a b c d e Wilson, Stephen (July 8, 2009). "Backup samples positive for 5 Olympians". Associated Press. 
  24. ^ Scislowska, Monika (March 17, 2009). "Test confirms Polish skier Marek doped at Olympics". Associated Press.;_ylt=AteL_RFSnudgkDtTzgM_8emNsbV_?slug=ap-ski-doping-marek&print=1. 

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