Women’s sports have come a long way since trailblazers like Wilma Rudolph, Billy Jean King, and Althea Gibson. Today, women’s sports are more popular than ever, and female athletes are making more money than ever—both good things. But, as with everything in life, there’s also a downside. Namely, with all that glory and money at stake, more female athletes are turning to performance enhancing drugs than ever before. And while some of them are smart and use the cutting edge drugs that are hard to detect, some of them are (apparently) quite stupid and use the old-fashioned ones that make you look like a freak. I mean, if you thought Barry Bonds looked ridiculous with his Popeye arms and big inflated BALCO balloon head, you should check out the cyclist on this list with the man-sized guns and the five o’clock shadow. Yikes.
Of course, the detrimental effects of PEDs on women aren’t merely aesthetic. Just as with men, they wreak havoc on a woman’s reproductive organs, often leaving them sterile—something young female athletes may not realize when first tempted to give PEDs a shot.
Anyway, today we take a look at some of the most famous female PED abusers from the world of sports. Some names you will recognize, others you almost certainly will not. But one thing’s for certain: they all made some poor life choices.
Italian road cyclist Marta Bastianelli—a World Champion—may be the victim of her own obsessive dietary habits rather than a blatant cheater. But the Italian Cycling Federation didn't care if she ingested flenfluramine in an attempt to gain a competitive advantage or in an attempt to supplement her rabbit-like eating habits. They found the banned substance in her blood back in 2008 and had no choice but to kick her off the 2008 Olympic team. It must have been a pretty big bummer for Bastianelli, who was a favorite to win gold. But she probably learned a good lesson: when people collecting your pee, it's best not to take any supplements, just to be on the safe side.
11. Marta Bastianelli
In 2010, the United States Anti-Doping Age (USADA) determined that Jamaican sprinter Beverly McDonald and her husband, sprinter Raymond Stewart, had been receiving and using shipments of steroids since September of 2000. Fortunately for McDonald, that meant she got to keep the silver medal she won in the 4 x 100 m relay at the Sidney Olympics in 2000. Unfortunately for McDonald—and her relay teammates—that meant she lost the gold medal the Jamaican team won at the Athens Olympics in 2004. Oh, and yeah, she and her husband are also banned from track and field competitions for life.
10. Beverly McDonald
Barry Bonds wasn't the only client BALCO (the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative) had. They also rustled up some track star clients, including American middle distance runner Regina Jacobs. She represented the USA at three consecutive Olympics in 1988, 1992, and 1996, and though she never medalled on her sports' greatest stage, she did take home the silver in the 1500 m at the World Championships in both 1997 and 1999. Unfortunately, in 2003 she tested positive for BALCO's designer THG steroid, and there are rumors that she was doping as far back as 1995.
9. Regina Jacobs
Cindy Olavarri (the left of the middle two riders pictured here) was set to compete with the US Cycling Team at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles—the goal she had worked so tirelessly to achieve. But she tested positive for anabolic steroids just months before the games were to commence and was kicked off the team. Career: over.
Twenty-one years later, in an interview with the Boston Globe, Olavarri is open and honest about the whole thing in an effort to discourage other women from making the same poor choice. ""I knew it was cheating," she said. "I looked at them in my hand, and once I decided to take them, I knew I had lost my integrity."
8. Cindy Olavarri
You know what sucks about being on a gold medal-winning relay team? When one teammates gets implicated in a doping scandal, the whole teams gets stripped of their achievement.
This is the case with Crystal Cox and the 2004 gold medal-winning Women's 4x400 m relay team. Cox was an alternate on the team who only ran in the preliminary heat. But when it was discovered that she had used anabolic steroids from 2001 to 2004, the whole team lost their medals—even though they won the finals without the cheater.
7. Crystal Cox
Kelli White was another of BALCO's track and field clients. She won gold medals in the 100 m and the 200m at the 2003 Wold Championships, but they were stripped from her after she failed a drug test in 2004. White later testified that she met personally with Victor Conte, the head of BALCO, and took his THG (aka "the clear") and EPO steroids.
6. Kelli White
The Chinese weren't any good at swimming—until 1992. Then, all of a sudden, at the Summer Olympics in Barcelona, the women's swim team won 4 gold medals. Then, at teh 1994 Wold Championships, they won 12 of 16 women's titles. Needless to say, people got suspicious.
Sure enough, 11 Chinese women swimmers tested positive for dihydrotestosterone at the 1994 Asian Games, and the jig was up. But when the team won only 1 gold at the 1996 Olympics, they decided to give doping another try...and so they were caught again before the 1998 Wold Championships. This time there were 4 positive tests and a vile of HGH in one swimmer's luggage.
You gotta be more careful than that, ladies.
5. Chinese Women's Swim Team
Ah, yes, the most famous client of BALCO not named Barry. Marion Jones won 3 golds and 2 bronzes at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, and got her own series of Nike commercials. In a word, life was good...until federal investigators came around in 2007 asking her what she knew about Victor Conte. She lied and said she didn't know nuthin', but that didn't last long. Soon she was forced to admit she'd been using 'roids for a long time, which disqualified her and her 4x400 m relay teammates from those gold medal victories.
In 2008 she went on Oprah and gave every excuse in the book for why she used PEDs. But I say, yeah, boo hoo, you knew what you were doing.
4. Marion Jones
This is the most famous case of systematic PED use in the history of sport. In the 1970s, Soviet-controlled East Germany decided they needed to be better at sports. So they started giving their athletes special "vitamins" meant to boost their energy. Of course, those pills weren't vitamins. They were steroids, and they made the athletes huge...and also caused liver cancer, organ damage, and infertility.
The most obvious "beneficiaries" of the East German doping program was the women's swim team. As you can see from the photo above (which is of swimmer Kornelia Ender), these poor woman got very brawny, which raised a lot of red flags.
3. East German Women's Swim Team
Ireland never had been a swimming powerhouse. They had never won an Olympic medal, and their best hope going into the 1996 games in Atalanta, Michelle Smith, had never finished better than 17th in any race in previous Olympics. But a miracle happened in 1996. At the age of 28, Michelle Smith came out of nowhere to win 3 gold medals and 1 bronze. So hooray for Ireland, right?
Yeah, no. Nobody was buying this story. In fact, American swimmer Janet Evans held a press conference immediately after her loss to Smith and accused her of doping. And while it never was proven that Smith did use PEDs, her coach had failed a drug test in 1993, and in 1998 she was convicted of tampering with a urine sample and banned for four years.
So yeah, she did it. Just look at her.
2. Michelle Smith
Tammy Thomas was an elite track cyclist well on her way to Olympic glory when she tested positive for steroids in 2002. Of course, no one was stunned. I mean, just look at her photograph. I wouldn't have believed this was her (or even a woman) if not for this more recent photo from her 2010 perjury trial.
What's that? Oh, yeah, she too was a BALCO client. And she too lied about it to the grand jury convened to investigate Victor Conte. In fact, an Olympic drug tester testified at Thomas' trial that when he arrived at her apartment to conduct a surprise drug test, he caught her in the middle of shaving...her face. Like, it was half-covered in shaving cream.
Apparently steroids have negative effects on common sense.
1. Tammy Thomas
Barry Bonds, Marion Jones, Olympics, peds, performance enhancing drugs, steroids,