Mark JohnsonSpitting in the Soup Explores the History of Sports Doping and Shines Light on Doping in Olympic Sports

Boulder, CO, USA — July 13, 2016 — The Tour de France, Russian track and field, Maria Sharapova, the 2016 Summer Olympics—doping will continue to overshadow the sports news for months after the Olympic closing ceremonies. In his controversial new book, Spitting in the Soup: Inside the Dirty Game of Doping in Sports, veteran 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 doping in sports—and what it will take to kick pills out of the locker room once and for all.

 Johnson is available immediately for interviews. Read the introduction to his book online here.

Excerpts from Spitting in the Soup are now available for republication. The full chapters are online for preview and linked below. Please e-mail Dave Trendler at VeloPress at to set up an interview or request an excerpt for republication in print or online.

1 The Origins of Doping: Doping in the late 1800s was a tool used by professional athletes to maximize their performance—and their earnings—and it was considered a mark of commitment to their craft. 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 toward doping to win—and condemnation of doping to lose.

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 Olympic founder Coubertin’s vision of purity.

Spitting in the Soup by Mark Johnson12 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. Yet there is no scientific evidence that EPO kills otherwise healthy athletes.

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.

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. The spirit of sport is a recent WADA invention, not an inherent quality of sport—but it’s still worth the aspiration.