Last week we discovered that the MVP of the MLB All-Star Game, Melky Cabrera, was caught using steroids and banned for 50 games. That was a big deal, but hardly shocking, since the guy’s numbers took such a huge spike over the last two seasons.
What was shocking, however, were the lengths he seemed willing to go to in order to explain the positive test. You see, it turns out that the Giants outfielder had an associate create a fake website advertising a fake supplement that Melky was going to say he had used without knowing it contained banned substances. The website actually went live, too, but the Feds soon caught on to the plot, and now Cabrera and his “associate” face even bigger trouble.
But of course, this isn’t the first time an athlete has tried to make up a crazy excuse to explain a positive drug test. It’s just the latest example. So today, in honor of Melky and his ridiculous plot, I present you with a list of the 15 best excuses ever given by athletes for a positive drug test.
Excuse: "I thought it was flax seed oil."
Poor misunderstood Barry Bonds didn't mean to take steroids and shatter baseball's home run records. He just got caught up in that nasty BALCO scandal unwittingly, when a trainer rubbed what Barry thought was flax seed oil all over his body. Or at least, that's what he told the grand jury.
15. Barry Bonds
Excuse: "I never inhaled."
When the first ever Olympic gold medalist in snowboarding tested positive for marijuana not long after his victory in 1998, he gave the old Bill Clinton excuse: sure, I puffed on the joint, but I did not inhale. Which is plausible, because snowboarders aren't known to be big pot smokers, right?
14. Ross Rebagliati
Excuse: "I only did it to show my girlfriend that I love her."
Australian soccer goalie Mark Bosnich was at the top of his profession in 2002, with a starting gig on one of the world's biggest clubs (Chelsea) and a supermodel girlfriend (Sophie Anderton). Then he failed a drug test, and everyone found out he had a $5,000-a-week coke habit. His excuse? It was the girlfriend's fault. He said, and I quote, "I did what I did for love. I told her that for every line of cocaine she would take, I would take two. And that's exactly what I did." Now that's commitment.
13. Mark Bosnich
Excuse: "Too much veal parm."
Czech tennis player Petr Korda came out of nowhere to win the Australian Open in 1998. Then, just 6 months later, a drug test found steroids in his system. His excuse was that he just loved veal, and had had simply eaten a few too many nandrolone-fattened calfs. The only problem was that scientists said he would have had to eaten 40 calfs a day for 20 years to get nandrolone levels that high. Oops.
12. Petr Korda
Excuse: "They spiked my toothpaste"
German runner Bieter Baumann won gold in the 5000m race at the 1992 Olympics, but in 1999 he tested positive for steroids. It wasn't his fault, though. His theory? Someone spiked his toothpaste.
The crazy thing is, this excuse is plausible. He was tested over and over for several weeks, and the levels of the drug varied depending on the time of day the test was taken. Moreover, the levels found in his system were inconsistent with the levels you would expect from an athlete trying to enhance his performance. Unfortunately, the guy was never able to prove the drug was in his toothpaste or produce a suspect. So he was banned by the IAAF.
11. Dieter Baumann
Excuse: "I didn't know what day it was."
By his own admission, the late Dock Ellis threw a no-hitter while tripping on LSD. Why? Because he didn't know what day it was.
You see, the Pirates arrive for a day couple days early for a series in San Diego. So with an off-day coming up, Dock decided to take advantage by dropping a few hits of acid. Then, when he woke up the next day—another off day—he decided to drop just one more hit of acid. The only problem was that "the next day" wasn't the next day. It was the day after the next day. The guy had lost track of time and didn't realize that he was supposed to pitch that night.
When he got to the ball park, he still couldn't really see, so the catcher put tape on his fingers to Ellis could read the signs. Then the guy thew a no-hitter.
10. Dock Ellis
Excuse: "A masseuse with a grudge rubbed the clear on my butt."
Gatlin won gold in the 100m at the 2004 Summer Olympics, but in 2006 he tested positive for 'roids. However, he says he never knowingly took the stuff. Instead, Gatlin's coach, Trevor Graham, claimed a massage therapist rubbed a steroid cream on his derriere without his knowledge. Of course, Graham was eventually implicated in the BALCO steroid distribution ring, and the IAAF didn't buy the excuse, so Gatlin had to serve a whopping 4-year ban.
9. Justin Gatlin
Excuse: "It was PMS."
As a rule of thumb, if you're a dude, blaming anything on PMS is a bad idea. However, it just so happens that Hope Solo really did fail a drug test because of PMS.
You see, just before the 2012 Summer Olympics, Solo tested positive for the masking agent canrenone. It turns out the drug was in a pre-menstrual medication prescribed by her physician for pre-menstrual symptoms, and she had no idea. Luckily she was able to prove that it was an honest mistake, and thus was let off with a warning.
8. Hope Solo
Excuse: "The Cuban mafia and CIA conspired against me"
This Cuban high jumper tested positive for coke after winning gold at the Pan-Am games in 1999. So obviously Fidel Castro himself took to the airwaves in his defense. In a passionate speech delivered on live television, the late Cuban dictator accused the CIA and the "well-known" Cuban-American mafia of conspiring against Sotomayor as part of their counter-revolution.
7. Javier Sotomayor
Excuse: "I got it kissing a girl"
In May of 2009, French tennis player Richard Gasquet (ranked No. 13 in the world at the time of writing) tested positive for coke during a tournament in Miami. But he says he didn't do any coke. He just made out with a chick at a night club who was doing coke, and he must have accidentally ingested it. And the sports tribunal hearing his case believed his story. (Leave it to a Frenchman to come up with an excuse for a positive drug test that involves kissing beautiful women.)
6. Richard Gasquet
Excuse: "I ate too much of my father-in-law's famous pigeon pie."
This one's an oldie but a goodie. And, since I can't find many sources, it might also be a myth. But it's too good not to include here. You see, in 1983, this Dutch cyclist tested positive for strychnine, which of course is a poison, but was also used as a stimulant in small doses back in the day. His explanation for the positive test was that his father served him a pigeon pie (which is a real thing, apparently) made from his prized racing pigeons (also, apparently, a real thing), and those racing pigeons had been doped up. So it was an honest mistake.
Incidentally, his father-in-law was famous French cyclist Raymond Poulidor.
5. Ardri van der Poel
Excuse: "I performed too much oral sex on my pregnant wife"
Yes, you read that correctly. In 1996, this Spanish runner, a gold medalist in '92, tested positive for 'roids. And his excuse was that he had recently taken part in an epic oral sex session with his pregnant wife. Because you see, some pregnant women, produce excess hormones. Whether or not these hormones can be ingested through oral sex is a different question.
However, it should be noted that further tests showed no signs of the hormone in Plaza's sytem, which is consistent with his story because normally it would take months for regular performance-enhancing drugs to clear out. And in 2006, he won a court case that cleared his name of wrongdoing.
Still...what an excuse.
4. Daniel Plaza
Excuse: "I was just trying to make my dong bigger."
This guy won gold in the 400m at Beijing in 2008. Unfortunately, his quest for a bigger penis earned him a 21-month suspension from the IAAF in 2009. You see, apparently intrigued by one of those emails that clutters your spam box, Merritt decided to try the over-the-counter penile enhancement "drug" ExtenZe, which contains the steroid dehydroepiandrosterone.
I don't know about you, but if I were in Merritt's shoes, I would have just said, "yeah, I was trying to win more races, sorry."
3. LaShawn Merritt
Excuse: "The lady deserved a treat."
In 1992, American sprinter Dennis Mitchell, won bronze in the 100m and gold in the 4x100m at the Summer Olympics. And in 1996, he won silver in the 4x100m relay. But in 1998, at the age of 32, he tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone. Mitchell wasn't trying to enhance his performance, however. Oh no, no no. The positive test was just because it was his wife's birthday the night before the drug test, and, in his words, "the lady deserved a treat"...which mean four bouts of vigorous sex. That, combined with 5 beers, Mitchell claimed, accounted for the extremely high levels of testosterone.
Interestingly, USA Track and Field accepted his explanation, but the IAAF did not, so he was banned for two years.
2. Dennis Mitchell
Drug: blood doping
Excuse: "An unborn twin lives inside me"
American cyclist Tyler Hamilton takes the top spot with the most far-fetched excuse for a failed doping test in the history of sport. You see, in 2004 a blood test showed revealed the presence of someone else's red blood cells in Hamilton's blood—which is a sign of a blood transfusion, something cyclists often do to enhance their performance. However, Hamilton said this test result stemmed not from an illegal blood transfusion, but from his twin that lives inside him.
You see, doctors think that up to 8% of pregnancies start out as multiples, but that in most cases the extra embryo or fetus is absorbed by the mother or the other fetus. They call such cases "vanishing fetuses." And if one fetus is absorbed by the other, in theory it is possible that the absorber could have tissues and cells that are not genetically his.
In Hamilton's case, however, it was all just a far-fetched lie that he cooked up from watching too much TV. In 2011, he admitted to doping.