For many years, drugs and sports have been interlinked. During the time of the Greeks, who officially started the Olympics, athletes eyeing on the coveted laurel wreaths drank potent herbs and even ate animal hearts and testicles in order to boost their performance and vitality. Before the end of 1800s, one of the first cases of sports deaths was then attributed to a drug known as trimethyl.
Despite the negative effects of performance-enhancing drugs, more athletes preferred to take them in the hope of remaining competitive in their respective fields. In the 1950s anabolic steroids especially Dianabol were released in the United States, which further the aggravated the situation.
Investigations, Loss, and Stripping
In 1967, the successful racing career of Tom “Tommy” Simpson abruptly ended when he died while competing in Tour de France. He was suffering then from a stomach bug, but what caused his untimely death was the fatal mix of brandy and amphetamine, which then led to dehydration, partly due to the intense heat. His death, however, was one of the main reasons why the International Olympic Committee set up a different group to “check on the welfare” of the athletes, especially their health, and to ensure ethics in every competition.
Simpson is not the only cyclist to figure in a doping investigation. Floyd Landis lost his title after he failed his drug test with more than the required limit of testosterone levels in 2006. Alberto Contador, along with the rest of his team, almost was not allowed to compete when they find themselves under intense investigation through Spain’s Operacion Puerto. Contador, however, failed his urine testing for Tour de France a few years after the first issue when it came back with clenbuterol presence. In 2012 several-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong gave up his rights on the title while still maintaining his innocence over doping charges that hound him for so many years now.
The BALCO investigation during the early 2000s also affected athletics tremendously. BALCO stands for Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative. The company was said to be the distributor of THG, a designer steroid. The fiasco involved Major League Baseball (MLB) players, as well as Timothy Montgomery and Marion Lois Jones. Montgomery lost all his records when he was judged guilty of drug use. He testified to USADA (United States Anti-doping Agency) that he opted HCG from BALCO. Jones, meanwhile, was Montgomery’s equivalent in the women’s division. Like Montgomery, she was removed of her titles when she confessed about lying before the grand jury during the BALCO investigation.
Doping in track and field gained more prominence and controversy when Ben Johnson lost not only his gold medal but also his world record in 100-meter sprint he achieved in 1988 Seoul Olympics. This was after his drug test came back positive with stanozolol. He was also prohibited from competing for 2 years. Interestingly, Carl Lewis, his strongest opponent, was, after 15 years since the story erupted, alleged to have taken performance-enhancing drugs during that time.