Illegal Doping Scandals in Professional Sports

Star athletes are always trying to gain an advantage over competitors, and some will do just about anything to win. Sometimes that competitive nature can go too far, as in the case of performance-enhancing drugs or other methods.

The practice of using banned substances to excel in competitive sports is also called doping. There are many kinds of performance-enhancing drugs, or PEDS, and other methods including:

  • Stimulants
  • Anabolic steroids
  • Human growth hormone
  • Diuretics
  • Blood doping

Doping is detrimental because it takes away the element of fair play, demoralizes competition, and can also cause physical harm to the athlete. It still happens despite all of this. Let’s take a look at some high-profile doping scandals.


2013 saw one of the most surprising doping scandals in sports history, involving over a dozen players from Major League Baseball. A Miami newspaper obtained evidence from a former employee of Biogenesis, a Florida health clinic. The health center was run by Anthony Bosch, who held a fake medical degree from Belize.

The clinic masqueraded as a rejuvenation center specializing in hormone replacement and weight loss, but in reality, it sold many of its clients PEDS. Star players, including Alex Rodriguez, Nelson Cruz and Ryan Braun were suspended, while MLB was left wondering how to contain what seemed to be a ubiquitous problem in professional baseball.

Kentucky Derby

It’s not just human athletes that take performance-enhancing drugs. In March 2020, two dozen people involved in horse racing were charged with giving the animals PEDs. One trainer, Jason Servis, allegedly doped all the horses under his control.

In the 2019 Kentucky Derby, the colt Maximum Security was first across the finish line, but was disqualified later for interference.

The Russian Doping Debacle

The United States is not the only country to have non-compliance with doping laws. Russia has a long and controversial history involving the practice. In 2017, the IOC banned Russia from the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea after the country was accused of systematically manipulating doping laws.

The ban was the most serious punishment ever handed out by the IOS. Russia’s Olympic Committee was ordered to reimburse the agency $15 million for the cost of the investigation. Some of those funds were used to establish a new independent testing authority.

In 2018, the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned bans on 28 athletes that were accused of doping so they could compete in the Winter Olympics. Later that same year, the IOC announced that it was lifting the Russia suspension because investigators confirmed that athletes that competed in the 2018 Winter Olympics did not participate in additional doping.

Lance Armstrong

The cycling champion initially denied the allegations, but in 2013, confessed to cheating by using performance enhancing drugs for at least a decade. He even admitted that he acquired all seven Tour de France titles and the millions of dollars in endorsements that go with it because of his habit of using illicit PEDs.

Armstrong was attacked by media outlets for keeping the denial going for so long and attacking competitors who had tried to expose him. He finally admitted the error of his ways on the Oprah Winfrey show.

Doping and the Law

Even famous athletes find themselves on the wrong side of the law occasionally, which is where a good criminal lawyer comes in. The law offices of Jeff C Kennedy represent athletes and regular citizens against drug charges and other criminal allegations. Convictions can destroy a career, as so many of these professional athletes discovered the hard way, but the right lawyer can minimize the damage.

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