5 Doping Scandals

Unfortunately, doping is a common practice in sports today. While certain cases made headlines, others stirred big controversies.
5 Doping Scandals

Last update: 28 December, 2019

Professional athletes aren’t allowed to use certain substances that can enhance their performance or produce bodily changes. There are many cases of doping and doping scandals that have hit the headlines. We’ll share the most notorious of these with you today.

What is a doping scandal?

First things first, let’s clarify that doping in a sports context is without overstepping into medical or chemical aspects. Basically, doping is the use (intentional or non-intentional) of a substance or method deemed prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

WADA aims to regulate competition by making sure that no athlete has an unfair advantage with a performance-enhancing substance.

If an athlete is found guilty of doping, he or she can receive a variety of sanctions. The sanctions can range from revoking an award or medal to life-expulsion from professional competition.

Famous doping scandals

In the last Olympic Games, Rio 2016, officials banned the Russian athletes. No athlete from Russia could participate after state-run doping programs (during the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics) came to light.

But, the Russian doping scandal is far from being the only case in sports history. Here are the most famous cases:

1. Lance Armstrong: doping scandal

The US cyclist, who won the Tour de France seven times as well as a bronze Olympic medal in Sydney 2000, admitted to having consumed prohibited substances such as EPO and cortisone. During an interview with Oprah Winfrey, he claimed, “It was impossible to win the Tour de France without doping.”

doping lance armstrong

After the world saw Armstrong’s positive result in doping tests, officials stripped him of all his titles. Furthermore, the International Olympic Committee also forced him to return his medal and achievement award.

2. Diego Maradona and the doping scandal

Though many remember Maradona as the best soccer player in history, he was also found guilty of doping and drug charges. Maradona was a genius on the pitch, but often ran into problems outside.

doping maradona

The Argentinian star enjoyed his glory during the 1986 and 1990 World Cups. But in the United States 1994 Cup, he tested positive for doping after winning against Nigeria. Many will always remember the image of Maradona being carried away by a nurse for testing shortly after the game ended. His positive results led to expulsion from the competition.

3. Maria Sharapova

The Russian tennis star, winner of four Grand Slams, also received a sanction. The WTA gave her a two-year sanction after she tested positive for doping in 2016. The tests found traces of meldonium, which the WADA had added to its blacklist that very year.

doping sharapova

While Sharapova appealed the suspension, she still missed various tournaments and the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. She returned to the courts in April 2017 and quickly advanced to the semi-finals in her tournaments.

4. Marion Jones: another one of the doping scandals

US athlete Marion Jones, winner of three gold Olympic medals from the 2000 Sydney Games– in the 100m and 200-meter sprint and 4 x 100m relay– was another doping scandal.

Victor Conde, the founder of BALCO labs, admitted to having administered doping substances to the athlete. Though she didn’t face trials and continued competing, she didn’t earn any new achievements. In 2006, she tested positive again for doping; this time, the results found a trace of EPO.

doping marion jones
Image: Los Angeles Times

A year later in court, she confessed to having consumed steroids during the 2000 Olympics. Her records were erased, and her medals revoked.

5. Alberto Contador: Doping scandals and cycling

Our next famous case is that of another cyclist. Spanish cyclist Alberto Contador– who won three Tour de France titles, three Vueltas España titles, and two Giro de Italia titles– tested positive for clenbuterol in 2010.

According to Contador– shown in the featured image–, the substance entered his body after having consumed meat during the Vuelta a Castilla y León race; essentially, he claimed that it wasn’t intentional. Despite his statement, the Anti-Doping Court stripped him of the French title he won that year. In addition, they also gave him a short suspension from competing.

To wrap up our post, we want to mention a few other memorable doping scandals: Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson, US tennis player Andre Agassi, Italian cyclist Marco Pantani and Peruvian soccer player Paolo Guerrero. Do you recall any other doping scandals that come to mind?

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.