We’ve seen it in natural bodybuilding as well as other sports – athletes who cheat to win by using performance enhancing drugs all the while insisting that they are “clean.” Now, a new study just released - Incongruence in Doping Related Attitudes, Beliefs and Opinions in the Context of Discordant Behavioural Data: In Which Measure Do We Trust? by Kingston’s School of Life Sciences in London funded by the World Anti-Doping Agency shows how athletes who have taken banned drugs, but deny having done so, are likely to manipulate their answers on questionnaires to make themselves fit the image of someone who is “clean” and strongly anti-doping.
Athletes participating in the study declared themselves as “clean” on the questionnaire. Participants were then asked to provide a hair sample which was tested for commonly-used anabolic steroids, erythropoietin (EPO) and major recreational drugs. No specific athlete group was targeted. Competition levels were ranging from university club to international level. None of the athletes who returned positive hair samples admitted doping use. Surprise, surprise.
"The really interesting group included those people who denied using any drugs but then tested positive,"said Kingston Professor Andrea Petroczi . "This group appeared to have manipulated every aspect of the questionnaire they filled in to fit the typical profile of what they thought would be a non-user."
The athletes were also asked questions about their attitudes towards doping, such as how much pressure they felt to take performance-enhancing drugs. Professor Petroczi's team found distinct patterns in responses suggesting that they had faked their answers in accordance with how they believed someone who was 'clean' would have replied.
"Large-scale doping behavior research needs to change because the clear message is that you cannot trust what individuals say about themselves on questionnaires - just because it's anonymous doesn't mean people will be honest,"said Professor Petroczi. "People may be deliberately lying or even unwilling to admit things to themselves.”
Major League baseball player Rafael Palmeiro declared to Congress under oath on March 17, 2005,"Let me start by telling you this: I have never used steroids, period. I don't know how to say it any more clearly than that. Never." On August 1 of that same year, he tested positive for steroids. He retired shortly thereafter and wrote a book admitting that he used steroids and named others in a cheap attempt to make a buck.
Wrassler Hulk Hogan was famous for telling kids, "Train, say your prayers, take vitamins, and believe in yourself,” all the while he was selling his own brand of vitamins. In 1994, when a steroids scandal threatened the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) Hogan testified in court that he had used steroids over a period of 12 years "to get big".
Cyclist Floyd Landis won the 2006 Tour de France and then maintained his innocence for the next four years after he was stripped of his title for doping. He finally came “clean” on May 21, 2010.
For years, track star Marion Jones , winner of three Olympic gold and two bronze medals, denied using performance enhancing drugs until October 2007 when, in her own words, she admitted that had begun using steroids in 2000 and called herself a liar and a cheat.
World and Olympic champion hammer thrower Hal Connolly, who died in 2010, told a Senate sub-committee earlier that he had used steroids as early as 1960. Of course, he didn’t tell them until after he had retired and cheated someone else out of a gold medal.
Pro football player Lyle Alzado was one of the first major athletes to admit to using steroids and HGH – but only when he was dying of brain cancer. A non-descript player at tiny Yankton College in South Dakota, he began using steroids in 1969 which parlayed him into a 15-year pro career before he died at age 43.
The list goes on…and so does the lying. It’s not as much about the drugs as it is the cheating. It’s all about winning at any cost, even if it means breaking the rules or winning at someone else’s expense. And, it’s about the fame and the money that comes with it, too. But, it's still called cheating.
Jim Evans is a 44-year veteran of the health and fitness industry and internationally recognized fitness consultant. He has been published in dozens of magazines and newspapers over the years and is the author of "Senior Health & Fitness," a monthly column published in more than 750 markets across the country (since 1992). He is a popular and well-known speaker available for speaking engagements through World Class Speakers & Entertainers and was host of the popular radio talk show "Forever Young" on San Diego's KCBQ 1170 AM for seven years focusing on issues of health, fitness, and quality of life for older adults. Jim was a charter inductee in the ABCC Natural Bodybuilding Hall of Fame in 1985 and was the sole inductee in the U.S. Natural Bodybuilding Hall of Fame in 2009.