1 The Origins of Doping: Doping in the late 1800s was a tool used by professional athletes to maximize their performance—and their earnings. Doping was also used to influence gambling results, particularly as a subterfuge to cripple race horses. Johnson explores the social mores around doping and finds public indifference to doping to win and condemnation of doping to lose.
2 Pierre de Coubertin and the Fair-Play Myth: Olympic founder Pierre de Coubertin’s creation of the Olympic games as an amateur-only educational project was modelled on his fascination with chivalric notions of sport and the gentleman athlete. Coubertin creates the myth of athleticism as a moral purifier, setting the stage for the anti-doping movement.
3 The Fall of Coubertin’s Ideal: The commercialization of the Olympics and growth of nationalistic and fiscal pressures immediately defeats the ideal of Olympic amateurism.
4 The Hot Roman Day When Doping Became Bad: The death of cyclist Knud Enemark Jensen at the 1960 Summer Olympics from heatstroke and head injury morphs into a media fable about the dangers of doping and death by drug misuse. Pan-European bureaucracies construct an anti-doping framework leading to a new player in sports: anti-doping missionaries attempting to convert the doping natives to Coubertin’s vision of purity.
5 Doping Becomes a Crime: France and Belgium begin a war on drugs by criminalizing sports doping in 1965. This reaction stems from overblown fears of the danger of drugs and as a response to larger social anxieties about 1960s countercultural drug use.
6 The Birth of the World Anti-Doping Agency: While attempting to restore its good image after the Salt Lake City bribery scandal, the International Olympic Committee accidentally creates the World Anti-Doping Agency in 1999. The IOC’s intent was to fend off a future where national police forces would enforce anti-doping at the Olympics— a future the IOC saw writ large in the 1998 Festina Affair.
7 Doping and the Cold War: Cold War political objectives and post-WWII shame fuels state-sponsored sports medicine in East Germany and Russia. These methods are adopted worldwide as nations join a drug-fueled arms race.
8 Anabolic Steroids: Sports as Sputnik: American weight lifters discover the benefits of anabolic steroids as a means of evening the playing field with communist nations.
9 The Reds Are Winning: U.S. failures against communist sports regimes leads to the Amateur Sports Act of 1978, which focuses on improving sporting performance of American elites instead of the masses. In the interest of global influence, the White House and Congress imply that American sports bodies must seek the highest levels of sports medicine techniques in the interest of national defense.
10 Spinning Olympic Gold: L.A. 1984: The first commercially successful Olympics in Los Angeles generates pressures to minimize anti-doping efforts. Voters bar the use of taxpayer funding for the Olympics, necessitating the novel use of corporate funding. These corporate backers incentivize the U.S. Olympic Committee to protect sponsor brands, minimize doping scandals, and take steps to ensure that doping American athletes are not found out.
11 The Sports Act Delivers: Gold in ’84: The Amateur Sports Act leads to hiring of more experienced coaches who bring Eastern European sports medicine techniques to the U.S. national cycling team. The White House pressures the U.S. Olympic Committee to do what it takes to beat communist athletes in Los Angeles. The U.S. national cycling team turns to legal, effective blood doping—and strikes gold.
12 Dr. Ferrari Was Right: EPO is blamed for the deaths of 18 cyclists in Europe in the early 1990s. Eager to keep physicians as their middle men, sales-hungry pharmaceutical companies inflame misinformation on the dangers and relative risk of EPO use.
13 Fear Makes Good Copy: Media hype the deadly dangers of performance enhancing drugs because death and drugs is a story that is inherently fascinating, even if not based on fact. Compared with the inherent dangers of sports, professional drug use is relatively safe, yet media focus attention on doping.
14 The War on Drugs: The U.S. declares war on drugs in the 1960s as a political tactic to stoke voter fears. The war bleeds into the sports world.
15 Amphetamines for All: Speed was a favorite doping agent in sports. In the 21st century, amphetamine use is also doping scholars and businessmen.
16 Supplements: Government-Approved Dope: The $35 billion dietary supplement industry is a legal sales channel for anabolic steroids, even as the same legislators who protect the industry rail against steroid use in pro and amateur sport. The U.S. Olympic Committee looks the other way while the IOC condemns supplement use a danger to pure sport.
17 Charlie Francis: Take It to Make It: Ben Johnson’s track coach Charlie Francis testifies to the impossibility of competing at high-level track and field without drugs.
18 DSHEA, Steroids, and Baseball’s Salvation: The Dietary Supplement, Health, and Education Act of 1994 resurrects Major League Baseball thanks to home-run hitting players bulked up on drugs made legal by the law.
19 If It’s Inherited, Is It Cheating? A new arms race is coming. Are athletes guilty for performance enhancement engineered by their parents or governments? How will anti-doping agencies discover genetically modified athletes?
20 Moral Drift and the American Way The amateur ethos that still informs the Olympic sports runs counter to the very nature of sport, which demands high performance. The increasing commercialization of sports intensifies this tension—and the insidious temptation of corruption.
Epilogue: The Spirit of Sport: The spirit of sport is a recent WADA invention, not an inherent quality of sport, but it’s still worth the aspiration.
About the Author
In Spitting in the Soup, sports journalist Mark Johnson explores how the deals made behind closed doors keep drugs in sports. Johnson unwinds the doping culture from the early days, when pills meant progress, and uncovers the complex relationships that underlie elite sports culture. Spitting in the Soup offers a bitingly honest, clear-eyed look at why that’s so, and what it will take to kick pills out of the locker room once and for all.
For the citations referenced above, please see the bibliography of Spitting in the Soup, which is available online in this pdf that includes Chapter 1.