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10 Famous athletes who were caught doping

Words by Meryl D'Souza

Athletes doping is quite a scandal. It’s hard to believe that some athletes, sometimes our heroes, take performance-enhancing drugs. Here are some of the biggest names in sport that were at the centre of doping scandals.



Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova and Meldonium at the Australian Open. Meldonium is prescribed to help protect heart tissue by regulating metabolism. But the drug also helps with an increase in endurance performance of athletes, improved rehabilitation after exercise, protection against stress, and enhanced activations of central nervous system functions. Meldonium only came to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s attention a few years ago and was banned in January 2016.


Tyson Gay

In July 2013, Tyson Gay was meant to make Usain Bolt sweat in the 100-metre dash at the Moscow World Championships. Instead, Gay pulled out from the tournament for testing positive for a banned substance.

By May 2014, the American was banned for a year and forfeited the Olympic silver medal he won as part of the United States 4x100 metres team in London.


Diego Maradona

By the time the 1994 World Cup came around, people thought Diego Maradona was done. But the Argentine scored a goal and an assist in first-round victories over Greece and Nigeria, and showed some of his dazzling dribbling form of old.

But six hours before Argentina were to face Bulgaria, Maradona was removed from the World Cup because he had tested positive for five variants of ephedrine, a drug used to increase energy and alertness and to lose weight by speeding up metabolism.


Anderson Silva

In his hey day, Anderson Silva was untouchable. The former UFC middleweight champion’s 10 straight title defences speak for itself. He was widely considered as one of the greatest fighters of all time.

Then, destroying everything he had ever worked for, the Brazilian tested positive for steroids in January last year following his unanimous decision win against Nick Diaz at UFC 183. Silva tried to blame the failed drug tests on a sexual enhancement drug a friend gave him, but the Nevada State Athletic Commission didn’t want to hear any of it.


Roy Jones Jr

In 2000, a couple of days after Roy Jones Jr defeated Richard Hall to retain his undisputed world light heavyweight championship in Indianapolis, he tested positive for the testosterone precursor androstenedione.

The drug is used to increase muscle strength and mass and to shorten muscle recovery time.


Ben Johnson

48 hours after he left all others, including bitter rival Carl Lewis, tasting dust in the 100-meter dash of the 1988 Summer Olympics, Ben Johnson was stripped of his medal.

He ran a then world record time of 9.79 seconds but was found guilty of using stanozolol, a water-based steroid similar to the male hormone testosterone that could be taken by athletes to increase muscle mass, which can enhance an athlete's performance.


Lance Armstrong

After spending years denying allegations, Lance Armstrong admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs in an interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2013.

The man who was once considered sporting icon said he used testosterone and human growth hormone, as well as EPO — a hormone naturally produced by human kidneys to stimulate red blood cell production. It increases the amount of oxygen that can be delivered to muscles, improving recovery and endurance.


Shane Warne

On the eve of their 2003 World Cup match against Pakistan, the Australian board called a press conference and announced that Shane Warne had advised them he had failed a routine drug test and would be returning home immediately.

Warne tested positive for Moduretic, a prescription drug widely used in the treatment of hypertension, high blood pressure and fluid retention. But one that could act as a masking agent for steroids by diluting traces of the substance in the urine.


Shoaib Akhtar

In 2006, a three-man tribunal formed by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) found Shoaib Akhtar guilty of using the steroid nandrolone that is used to aid recovery from injury, increase muscle size, strength and power and increase aggression.


Alberto Contador

After a two-year investigation, Alberto Contador was found guilty of doping in 2012. The 2010 Tour de France winner was allegedly using clenbuterol, a fat-burning and muscle-building supplement that is sometimes used by farmers to fatten their livestock.

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