Where Armstrong Ranks: Sports' Biggest Doping Scandals

Lance Armstrong's name now belongs with the likes of Ben Johnson and Barry Bonds

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Getty Images
    Lance Armstrong's confession of performance-enhancing drug use to Oprah Winfrey will air Thursday and Friday.

    Elite athletes have forever been ingesting and injecting all manner of substances in hopes of gaining a competitive advantage.

    In 1889, Hall of Fame pitcher Pud Galvin openly took an elixir of Brown-Sequard — that's testosterone drained from animal testicles, if you must know. The East German government for years conducted steroids experiments on its unwitting athletes as young as 10 years old. In his brilliant tell-all memoir "Ball Four," former major league baseball player Jim Bouton told the world that virtually every pro ballplayer was using amphetamines.

    It's only the last 15 years that the use of performance-enhancing drugs has grabbed headlines, sparked outrage, inspired Congressional hearings and caused major sports leagues to institute stringent testing regimens.

    Here are the top five PED scandals, going back to "The Dirtiest Race in History."

    Ben Johnson
    At the 1988 Summer Olympics, Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson blazed his way to a world-record time of 9.79 seconds in the 100-meter dash, reaffirming his standing as the fastest man alive. Three days later he was stripped of his gold medal after a urine sample showed he'd been using anabolic steroids. Carl Lewis, who was awarded the 100-meter gold, silver medalist Linford Christie and fourth-place finisher Dennis Mitchell all tested positive for one substance or another that year, but were not disqualified, earning the heat the unofficial title of "The Dirtiest Race in History." Though Johnson admitted to using PEDs for years, and was caught three different times, he maintains his positive test in 1988 was the work of a "mystery man" working for Carl Lewis.

    How Armstrong's "Blood Doping" Went Unnoticed

    [LA] How Armstrong's "Blood Doping" Went Unnoticed
    After years of vehemently denying the charges, Lance Armstrong admitted to doping in an interview with Oprah Winfrey. It is believed Armstrong participated in "blood doping," which improves stamina but not strength by boosting red blood cells in the body and is difficult to prove. Dr. Bruce Hensel reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Jan. 15, 2013.

    Marion Jones
    Accusations of PED use dogged Jones going all the way back to high school, but she denied it at every turn, even going as far as to write in her 2004 autobiography, "Life in the Fast Lane," that her marriage to C.J. Hunter ended in part because he had tested positive for steroids. But in December of 2004, BALCO mastermind Victor Conte told "20/20" that he had personally administered multiple PEDs to Jones around the time of the 2000 Summer Games, where she had won three gold and two bronze medals, and Hunter would later testify to watching Jones inject herself with steroids. In 2006, a urine sample from Jones tested positive for Erythropoietin (EPO), but her secondary sample was found to be clean and she was cleared. The whole facade came crashing down, however, in 2007, when she made a tearful confession to making false statements to federal agents about her drug use, and was sentenced to six months in jail.

    BALCO
    Victor Conte, formerly a bassist who'd played with Tower of Power and Herbie Hancock, founded the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (BALCO), which developed a doping program that involved five different drugs-- Erythropoietin, Human Growth Hormone, Modafinil, Testosterone cream, and Tetrahydrogestrinone—that when administered properly were difficult to detect. In addition to Jones, Conte supplied a lengthy and distinguished roster of major-league baseball players with PEDs, including Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield. The season after being introduced to BALCO, Bonds hit a record 72 home runs. By 2003, Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams of the San Francisco Chronicle began a series of articles about BALCO that culminated in the book "Game of Shadows." BALCO's reach across baseball was so great that MLB Commissioner Bud Selig was forced to institute the league's first written policy on PED use with positive tests resulting in suspensions of 50 games, 100 games or life.

    Jose Canseco
    Canseco won a Rookie of the Year award, an MVP, two World Series titles and hit 462 home runs, but before he did any of that, he began using steroids, having first tried them as a 20-year-old minor leaguer. While the furor and moral outrage over steroids in sports is a relatively recent phenomenon, Canseco was being serenaded with chants of "Ste-ROIDS!" as far back as 1988, while a member of the Oakland A's. His 2005 autobiography, "Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits & How Baseball Got Big," blew the lid off the game's steroids use, as he claimed to have introduced former teammate Mark McGwire to steroids, as well as former Texas Ranger teammates Juan Gonzalez, Rafael Palmeiro and Ivan Rodriguez. Canseco also expressed his belief that Roger Clemens used steroids, a claim seconded by former trainer Brian McNamee, though the pitcher has never tested positive, and has been acquitted of perjury in connection to his alleged drug use.
     
    Lance Armstrong
    Few have so totally dominated their sport the way Armstrong did the world of cycling from 1999 to 2005. During that time, Armstrong won a record seven consecutive Tour de France titles, and became an inspiration to millions with his too-good-to-be-true triumph over testicular cancer. But concerns about Armstrong's training regimen began in earnest when it was learned he'd been working with Michele Ferrari, a doctor who once compared the blood booster EPO to orange juice. The rumors persisted through each of Armstrong's Tour wins and beyond, reaching a fever pitch in 2010, when former teammate Floyd Landis claimed to have witnessed Armstrong's illicit techniques in 2002 and 2003. In 2012, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency launched an investigation into his PED use, ultimately finding him guilty of being the mastermind of a "professionalized" doping conspiracy and stripping him of all titles going back to 1998, including his seven Tour de France championships. Through it all, Armstrong defiantly maintained his innocence, until Tuesday, when he sat down in his Austin, Texas, home with Orpah Winfrey for a lengthy interview in which is said to have confessed. "'Emotional' doesn't begin to describe the intensity or difficulty (for Armstrong) in talking about these things," Winfrey told "CBS This Morning." The interview will air in two one-hour segments on Thursday and Friday night, on Winfrey's OWN network.