29 to 45 Percent of Elite Athletes "Dope" Concludes Suppressed Study



In a New York Times front page story today, social science researchers report that 29 percent of the track and field athletes who participated in the 2011 world championships and 45 percent of those in the 2011 Pan-Arab games admitted in an anonymous survey to using banned performance enchancement technologies in the past 12 months. The Times notes that only 2 percent of the enhancement drug tests administered on behalf of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) are positive. The structure of the survey would make it easy for athletes to lie, so the researchers actually think that their figures are an underestimate.

Apparently WADA doesn't want the public to know about these findings:

The researchers were eager to publish their results, which they believed would expose a harsh reality of modern sports: that far more athletes are doping than might be imagined, and that current drug-testing protocols catch few of the cheaters. But after a final draft of the study was submitted to the antidoping agency, the organization ultimately told the researchers they could not publish their findings at this time, according to three of the researchers, who requested anonymity because they signed nondisclosure agreements with the agency. The agency said track and field's world governing body needed to review the findings first, the researchers said.

So what do these findings mean?

John Hoberman, a University of Texas professor who is an expert on performance-enhancing drugs, said the study's findings dispelled the notion that doping was a deviant behavior among a few athletes.

"Either the sport is recruiting huge numbers of deviants," he said, "or this is simply routine behavior being engaged in by, more or less, normal people."

Take a look at my Reason colleague Nick Gillespie's excellent column, "Let Them Shoot Up: In Defense of Alex Rodriguez," in which he attacks the manufactured hypocrisy and outrage that accompanies the use of performance enhancing technologies in sport:

Drugs are bad, mmkay? Except when they're not. Use a statin to reduce your cholesterol, an SSRI to level your moods, Viagra in the boudoir, Adderall to goose your SAT…that's just being a responsible citizen. But use steroids and HGH and pep pills to make yourself run faster, jump higher, or grow stronger in pursuit of Olympian perfection—well, that's just wrong. Even if they are widely available and widely used in every sport. Even if they are not the difference between being a shlub off the street and an elite athlete.

Bottom line: If a majority of elite athletes are already using enhancements, change the rules and let eveyone have access. It's safer and fairer for everybody and may even make sports more interesting.

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  1. Well I think I speak for everyone in saying I’m underwhelmed by the actuality.

    1. hear hear.

  2. I’m sorry, but we already determined that 29-45% of athletes are Jewish. This post makes no sense.

    1. Or did we determine that 29-45% of Jews are elite athletes? I can’t remember.

      1. That’s 29-45% unlikely.

        Maybe a bit higher.

      2. I worked in a library in a Jewish neighborhood that had the city’s only copy of the Greatest Jewish Athletes. Book Length? About 150 pages.

        1. Was it one of those books where every other page was a full page photo too?

          1. A full page photo of the athlete’s mother, with a look of stern disapproval on her face.


          2. Oh yeah. And I think 10 pages or so on Sandy Koufax.

            1. Hard to beat Sandy from 1962-65. Of course, the Nation will counter with Pedro, from 1998-2000.

      3. 29-45% of Nazi soldiers were anti-Semitic.

  3. I like the old comments better.


    2. Down the memory hole

      1. Not for those with a photographic memory.

    1. Why’s Reason so obsessed with this doping thing here lately? Who gives a shit?

      1. I kind of do, but not in the direction Reason would like. Fucker dopers – they’re cheaters.

        1. Well they wouldn’t be cheaters if doping were legal.

          1. But they’d still be dopers even if cheating were legal. Think about it.

            1. Mind : Blown.

              1. !!!DNWP

          2. They would still be cheaters even if doping were legal since they all signed contracts to that effect. Now I don’t think it should be either illegal or against the rules, but, to me, this isn’t about legality but about contractually agreeing to not do something and then doing it anyway.

            1. Have you examined each and every contract executed by each and every player in MLB?

              1. The MLB has rules against doping, so by signing up to play in the MLB, you are agreeing to those rules.

                1. What about the rights of the those players who do not want to be bound by the rules?

                  Remember, MLB is not a free market proposition. Look at all the money which is confiscated from taxpayers to finance stadia or give special deals to the crony capitalist owners.

                  How about the fact that you have crony capitalist owners dealing with a UNION? Whither the individual?

                  1. I won’t argue with you there. Just saying that there’s nothing wrong with a voluntary competitive league having their own rules with regard to doping. I agree with you though that the MLB is a government supported monopoly, and I would have no problem with efforts being made to break down the barriers to competition and market entry.

                    1. Yes, I’ve told John and Neo Koch and others the same thing for years: if the league was a genuine free market proposition, with no subsidies, no preferential treatment, no anti-trust protection (of course, I do not favor anti-trust) which restricts the free flow of labor, and no fly-overs b/4 the games, then I would be okay with a league banning or eliminating PEDs or protein shakes or pasta and being able to impose sanctions against the players who did not comply.

          3. “Well they wouldn’t be cheaters if doping were legal.”

            It would still be reasonable for voluntary sports leagues to have anti-doping rules. That way the sport is an actual athletic competition and not a battle between pharmaceutical scientists.

            1. What about Lasix?

              What about surgery, of any kind?

              What about cortisone shots?

              1. I get that, but all those things you mentioned just put people who are at a disadvantage due to injury or disability at the same level as their competitors. Doping makes the entire competition about finding the best drug, rather than improving skill. It would basically just be a fantasy league. I think someone downthread said it best, “watching players who are competing with each other to find the newest and most effective drug isn’t necessarily more entertaining than a game without that.”

                1. As is the reverse. It is not necessarily more entertaining to watch players competing against each other who do not seek out that which gives them the best opportunity to be the very best that they can be.

                  Also, your logic fails. Why should a player who does not have the same eyesight as a Ted Williams or a Jim Thome or a Jimmy Foxx be able to enhance their performance in order to get to the same level as the Splendid Splinter?

                  You can make the same argument about the PARTICULAR PEDs that MLB bans – because taking them is “just put[ting] people who are at a disadvantage due to [less ability, fear of not making it, age] at the same level as their competitors.”

      2. One of the threads this morning (AM Links, I think) had a comment about Rep. Elijah Cummings wanting to get involved in the NFL v. NFLPA dispute over HGH.

        If Congress wants to get involved in something, that’s good enough cause for reason to say, “Keep the fuck away, Congress!”

  4. Bottom line: If a majority of elite athletes are already using enhancements, change the rules and let eveyone have access. It’s safer and fairer for everybody and may even make sports more interesting.

    Your own headline indicates it isn’t a majority, so your point here seems…undermined.

    1. NK: OTOH, as I note, the researchers believe that their figures are an underestimate.

    2. I think Bailey’s implication was that 29-45% self reported and that means it’s likely that over half are really using, because liars are gonna lie.

      1. “liars are gonna lie”

        This reminds me that lately I’ve been seeing shirts from Nike that read:


        and wonder if the wearers realize they’re projecting.

        1. What kind of asshole wears a shirt with an internet meme on it?

          1. One who wears a shirt with an internet meme on it?

  5. Bottom line: If a majority of elite athletes are already using enhancements, change the rules and let eveyone have access. It’s safer and fairer for everybody and may even make sports more interesting.

    Drugs don’t make sports more interesting.

    1. Alcohol would make NASCAR more interesting.

      1. Not as interesting as making them race backwards.

      2. Cocaine and Viagra would make ice dancing vastly more interesting.

        1. Only if used by the viewers.

      3. “Alcohol would make NASCAR more interesting”

        My cow-orkers are wondering why I am laughing.

          1. Don’t question your elders, Ted. Cow-orking is a joke older than you.

    2. I concur with the Viscount.

    3. The East German swim team was vastly more entertaining than anything we have today. Imagine, we could rank athletes based not only how quick they are, but also on a 1-10 scale based on how much they resemble a normal human being.

    4. Drugs make everything more interesting.

      1. I concede watching sports while on drugs might be interesting, but watching players who are competing with each other to find the newest and most effective drug isn’t necessarily more entertaining than a game without that.

      2. Well, we already know drugs made Bob Probert more interesting.


    5. Bill Burr and I disagree. Too bad the quality is so shitty.

    6. Drugs don’t make sports more interesting.


    7. Enhanced performance certainly makes sports more interesting.

    8. That does not logically follow.

  6. But use steroids and HGH and pep pills to make yourself run faster, jump higher, or grow stronger in pursuit of Olympian perfection?well, that’s just wrong.

    It’s not “wrong”; it’s just not “cricket”.

    1. I bet plenty of cricketers dope.

    2. Morally wrong in of itself? No. Unfair to the other people who don’t do it and a breach of contract and trust? Yes.

      1. You are so focused on “fair”, you sound like a progressive. I hear you on the breach of contract, but “fair” is an idiotic metric.

        1. I don’t understand why you are conflating attempting to create a fair competitive event with progressives attempting to create fair equality of outcomes.

          A progressive idea of fairness applied to baseball would be that each time Clayton Kershaw pitches for the Dodgers the other team automatically gets the bases loaded.

          I’m not advocating that, I’m saying the rules should require everyone to use their natural abilities and not use enhancements.

          1. So no one gets to train? Or is training okay, but they all have to use the exact same equipment and environment for training?

          2. The problem with your idea of “fair” regarding PEDs is that it becomes absurd when taken to its logical conclusion. Oh shit, Richard Sherman has a cold today and feels like shit, so he took some decongestant and feels a lot better. Is that unfair? It was technically a PED. Can athletes drink coffee? Can they drink protein powder before a workout?

            Your nebulous idea of “fair” doesn’t make any sense. You totemically place far more power in certain compounds than others, and judge some to be fair and some not. It doesn’t make any sense.

            1. Just because an abstract is a little gray around the edges doesn’t it make it less valid. I can press you on terms like “love”, “hate”, “liberty”, “music”, whatever and what those words mean on the edges. But that isn’t what we’re talking about here.

              1. How about Lasix surgery? Do you know that the greatest right handed finesse pitcher in the last 40 years, Mr. Greg Maddux, had Lasix surgery in, IIRC, 1999?

                Although Maddux has said that he had the procedure for overall better vision and not for performance enhancement reasons, why should a ballplayer be able to have any type of eye procedure done?

                Keep in mind the Gerard Mayo of the Patriots has been hawking Lasix for the last couple of years on New England area radio stations and he says that it has improved his ability to read the eyes of the QB and the development of plays.

        2. No shit…

          “Hey, he can run faster than me, so it’s only fair that he has to wear leg weights!”

          1. On the other hand…”Let them use rocket packs!”

            What’s the difference?

            1. Rocket pants, much like alcohol in NASCAR, would be killer kool!

      2. They could have a special league for the weak players who don’t dope, kind of like women’s leagues.

  7. Fist of Etiquette| 8.23.13 @ 3:21PM |#
    29 to 45 Percent of Elite Athletes
    Smoke pot. Use PED. Are gay. Cheat on their taxes. I can’t wait to find out which.

    What a let down.

    1. How’d you do that? Do you save permalinks to all your comments? I bet you do. Narcissist.

  8. Bottom line: If a majority of elite athletes are already using enhancements, change the rules and let eveyone have access. It’s safer and fairer for everybody and may even make sports more interesting.

    That would send the wrong message!

  9. Why would anyone be against drugs? They make this sort of thing possible. Girls, homos, you’re welcome.

    1. What about those of us who are a little bi-curious?

      You’ve planted the seed of doubt!

      1. Why do you think I’m not watching it? I don’t want Warty’s video to turn me gay.

        1. Remember: It’s not gay, if you don’t push back.

        2. But what if it turned you straight instead?


      2. “a little”

  10. I’m just sayin’, I’d actually watch football if it were more like Mutant League Football.

  11. I can’t believe no one has posted this yet.

  12. That’s because they are little girly men.

  13. I will never understand why PEDs are against the rules, and I will never understand why anybody cares about PEDs in sports.

  14. The issue is to make PEDs legal. People ought to be able to use them if they want. But there is no reason why the IOC or the NFL or anyone else shouldn’t be able to ban their use in their games if they choose to.

    Libertarians lose track of that sometimes. The point is not to give you the bread and circuses you want. The point is to keep the government from throwing people in jail for what they put in their own bodies. If you are pissed MLB doesn’t like steroids, start your own league or watch something else.

    1. Right. Just to concretize this a little further, I wouldn’t watch segregated leagues, even though I think you should be allowed to form one.

      1. So no Olympics for you?

      2. So, if you were around in the 30s and 40s, you would not have patronized Negro League games or MLB games?

    2. I couldn’t agree with this point more.

  15. Here’s the actual news:

    who requested anonymity because they signed nondisclosure agreements with the agency.

    Why the fuck would you sign such a thing? The idea that they would even WANT you to sign such a thing means they aren’t interested in the truth.

  16. Well that was…predictable.

  17. At the time the picture of Arnold, above, was taken, he was still natural.

  18. The first draft of this article was so much better. Short and to the point.

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