Notable drug scandals
Doping & drug infractions that rocked the sports world
July 27, 2006
American sprinter Jerome Young was allowed to compete – and win a gold medal – at the 2000 Sydney Olympics despite testing positive for steroids in 1999. (Michael Steele/Getty Images)
U.S. Track & Field cover-ups
It is perhaps the biggest doping cover-up in all of sports.
Dr. Wade Exum's report that 19 American medallists were allowed to compete at various Olympic Games from 1988 to 2000 despite having earlier failed drug tests shocked some people in the sporting community but was no surprise to others.
For years, insiders had speculated that U.S. athletes were not immune to delving into doping to get ahead of the competition.
But how could this be? American athletes often spoke publicly against illegal drug use in sport, cursing the sports regimes of East Germany and China for systemic doping practices.
"There is no commitment to stopping the drug problem," said track and field star Carl Lewis in 2000. "People know the sport is dirty, the sport is so driven by records."
Little did Lewis know he would be named in Exum's report.
The five-time Olympic medallist was among the athletes named in more than 30,000 pages of documents released by former U.S. Olympic Committee anti-doping chief to Sports Illustrated and several newspapers in 2003. More than 100 athletes from several different sports tested positive for banned substances between 1988 and 2000 but were cleared by internal appeals processes.
According to Exum's evidence, Lewis was one of three eventual Olympic gold medallists who tested positive for banned stimulants in the months leading up to the 1988 Seoul Games.
Exum made the initial allegations about coverups in 2000, which led several sporting organizations – among them, the IOC, IAAF and the World Anti-Doping Agency – to pressure the USOC to re-examine how they conducted drug testing.
Soon, the USOC turned over drug testing responsibilities to the newly founded U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. Don't worry, the USOC assured, this type of cover-up will never happen again.
So far, it hasn't. (Well, aside from track and field's Jerome Young being allowed to compete – and win a gold medal – at the 2000 Sydney Olympics despite testing positive for steroids in 1999.)
These coverups still beg the question: How could a country's own Olympic federation turn their backs on the oath of fair play and allow drug cheats to compete for a decade's worth of Olympic Games?
Ben Johnson would like to know.
Lewis was awarded the gold medal in the 100-metres after Johnson was disqualified for using steroids.
The Canadian sprinter told the Toronto Star that he felt somewhat vindicated by Exum's report.
"It was (for years) like I was the only cheat," he told the newspaper. "I knew time would take care of the truth."