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Active Expert: Gale Bernhardt

1 Post tagged with the olympic_athletes tag

A one day diversion from the series on training principles, today’s post has to do with performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). When I wrote the column, “Liars, Cheaters and Thieves in Your Sport” I looked for a study that was done on Olympians and aspiring Olympians that asked if they would cheat if they wouldn’t get caught.


Through a post on the USAT coach’s form, I was able to track down the link I was looking for. Here was the first question for the athletes:


A scenario, from a 1995 poll of 198 sprinters, swimmers, powerlifters and other assorted athletes, most of them U.S. Olympians or aspiring Olympians: You are offered a banned performance-enhancing substance, with two guarantees: 1) You will not becaught. 2) You will win. Would you take the substance?

One hundred and ninety-five athletes said yes; three said no.

That’s right - 98.5% of the athletes said they would cheat if they knew they wouldn’t get caught. But what if not getting caught had other extreme consequences? The athletes were asked a second question:


Scenario II: You are offered a banned performance-enhancing substance that conies with two guarantees: 1) You will not be caught. 2) You will win every competition you enter for the next five years, and then you will die from the side effects of the substance. Would you take it?

More than half the athletes said yes.

Over half the athletes were willing to die after five years of competitive glory.


While the data is a little old, coming from a Sports Illustrated story printed in 1997, I suspect the answer would be very similar today.


Even though the story was done on elite athletes, I wonder if the stats would be similar if it was a survey done on competitive age group athletes?


Reference: Michael Bamberger, Don Yaeger, Over The Edge, Sports Illustrated, April 14, 1997

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