Ever wonder if your favorite or most hated sports star was juicing? Here’s the insider take on performance enhancing drugs in sports.
Pro sports are high stakes. It’s about pride. It’s also about winning. Winning translates to big money.
That leads some to cheat. Many will go as far as necessary to increase athletes performance.
Any shortcut that leads to a win seems worthwhile. Sadly, that even includes taking steroids. The following 10 super athletes have all had the finger of doubt pointed at them.
#1 Peyton Manning – NFL
With the Al Jazeera report that he used human growth hormones looming over his head, it certainly seems possible that Peyton’s squeaky-clean image could be tainted.
Whether it was his miraculous return following his neck surgery before joining the Denver Broncos or his late-season return this year, Peyton has defied the odds. He’s battled many sport injuries and returned as a dominant force.
The most logical timeframe for Peyton to have used it would be leading up to his first season with Denver. There’s no way someone coming off a potential career ending injury should be able to lead one of the most high-octane passing attacks in the history of the National Football League.
It stands to reason that Peyton stopped once he was back playing again, but then needed some more help getting back healthy and diet motivation in time for the playoffs this past year.
Assuming he did take, it certainly proved beneficial. He was able to get his team to two Super Bowls in three years while winning the most recent one.
#2 Conor McGregor – UFC
His opponent for UFC 196, Nate Diaz, recently called out the feisty Irishman for using steroids. As a result, take these allegations with a grain (or mountain) of salt.
After all, Diaz accused almost the entire UFC of being on the juice in the press conference for the fight.
Based on McGregor’s size, it’s unlikely that he uses steroids, although, if he wanted to take them, prior to that fight would have been the best time. He fought Diaz at the welterweight weight class, which is a full two boxing weight classes above his standard class.
His opponent changed quickly from Rafael dos Anjos to Diaz, so McGregor needed to pack on weight fast.
It might have made sense for him to use steroids leading up to this fight, but it’s still highly unlikely. McGregor said that there’s no way he’d even consider using steroids.
At a recent press conference, he said, “Steroids? Man, what are you talking about, steroids? Don’t be putting my name with steroids, I’m major against that.”
The accusations also riled up UFC president Dana White who told TMZ that McGregor and the UFC don’t have problems with steroids.
#3 LeBron James – NBA
There’s no denying that LeBron James is one of the most athletic humans on the planet. Few people can match the size, speed, strength and explosiveness that he combines to rule the basketball court.
That being said, there have been rumors many times throughout his career that “The King” may have ascended to his throne with the help of some performance enhancing substances.
This can definitely be attributed to his growing from a 19-year-old into a man in his mid-20s. But, the muscle growth was quite shocking, even for a player with his genetics.
Perhaps the most damning evidence was the drastic weight loss he achieved upon his return to the Cavaliers in 2014.
Many believe that LeBron was tipped off by the NBA that they would begin HGH testing and he stopped using for a period of time, which led to his massive easy weight loss.
LeBron claims it was from cutting out sugar, carbs and dairy products over 67 days. Whether it was a carb cycling, a specific diet or a lack of HGH is up for debate.
#4 James Harrison – NFL
James Harrison is another NFL player who may have benefited from performance-enhancing drugs.
While the Al Jazeera report seems to suggest he used them recently, and he may have, it seems like the most logical timeframe for him to have used steroids was during his defensive player of the year season in 2008.
Harrison burst onto the scene as a 29-year-old. That’s when he started laying devastating hits on opposing offensive players.
It’s very rare in any sport for a player to be a journeyman early on in their career and then suddenly flip a switch and begin taking over games at a point when they should be near the end of their prime.
That’s exactly what Harrison did.
His name being listed with Manning’s certainly raises some suspicions, as does his late career bloom. But, there’s no solid proof that Harrison ever cheated.
Despite that, he absolutely looks like what you’d imagine if you were asked to close your eyes and picture a steroid user.
#5 Ryan Braun – MLB
While only Ryan Braun knows if he’s currently on steroids or HGH, the entire world knows that he used to be. Braun tested positive in 2011 for elevated testosterone and got a 50 game suspension from Major League Baseball.
In a twisted act, he then attempted to blame everybody but himself. He proclaimed that he was innocent and didn’t do anything to enhance this athletes performance.
After vehemently denying he ever took anything illegal, going so far as to “bet his life” that no banned substances entered his body, Braun showed how desperate he was to save face and avoid the scorn of the public eye.
His charade didn’t last long though, as he, in time, confessed and admitted to being a cheater who tried to lie his way out of trouble.
His partial ban from the game led to Braun having a career low in batting average upon his return. However, he could be back to juicing.
He followed up his career low season by being voted an all-star in 2015.
What Other Athletes Performance Have Been “Artificial?”
#6 David Ortiz – MLB
Known as “Big Papi,” Ortiz is one of the best-known baseball players on the planet. His big personality and large stature have helped make him a fixture of baseball’s post-steroid era. The only problem with that is Ortiz failed a drug screening way back in 2003, one year before he helped the Red Sox break the longstanding curse of the Bambino.
There’s no denying that “Big Papi” hits the ball out of the park with similar power and frequency of known steroid users like Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire.
Some of this can be attributed to the fact that Ortiz is now strictly a designated hitter, so he has more time to focus on that part of his game. That explanation makes sense.
But fans still point to the fact that his constantly otherworldly home run totals at age 38 and beyond haven’t been replicated since the infamous steroid era.
Unlike Braun, Ortiz has never admitted to using steroids or any type of banned substance.
He claims he doesn’t know what made him fail the test in 2003. While opposing fans latch onto the failed test in ’03, it seems likely that if Ortiz was really using, either his numbers would have dipped or he would have been caught again like A-Rod.
#7 Jon “Bones” Jones – UFC
Rumors have swirled about nearly every fighter on the UFC roster. Jones is no exception. The light-heavyweight champion made a name for himself by brutalizing opponents in the Octagon with his spinning elbows and world-class super strength and endurance.
In the lead up to his return from a cocaine suspension, Jones posted a picture on Instagram showcasing his new physique.
To put it simply, Jones’ new physique was extremely ripped and had him looking better than ever. Was he taking Ripped Muscle X? Naturally, suspicions of steroid use came to help his haters explain how Jones could reinvent his body in such dramatic fashion.
Jones credits it all to powerlifting in his Instagram post.
It does seem a bit odd that a pro fighter like Jones had never seriously done powerlifting, but that’s really the only flaw that can be found in his explanation. It’s most likely that Jones simply got by on his athleticism before and now takes a more focused approach to his occlusion training. Want some great tips for weight training for beginners? Check out his workouts.
After all, he’s from one of the most athletic families in America with two brothers who are NFL defensive linemen.
#8 Brock Lesnar – WWE
They call him “The Beast.” One look at him and it’s easy to see why. Lesnar has one of the most intimidating physiques in all of sports and sports entertainment.
His strength and determination goes a long way.
It’s that same strength and success that has led to many questions about his physique. Brock’s hulking frame of 280 pounds certainly looks even more now that he is doing chest workouts for mass. Unlike many others on this list though, Lesnar has always been a large athlete.
His size has never fluctuated.
As for whether or not he got his size from steroids, Lesnar told Maxim magazine: “I bet you I’ve taken over 60 steroid tests, in college I had 15 random drug tests in two years. I’ve taken drug tests for the NFL, the WWE, and the UFC. I must be pretty good at masking steroids. God gave me this body.”
Based on his past achievements and body type, it makes sense that Brock has never cheated, because his body has never really changed.
#9 Dwight Howard – NBA
Nobody ever said it was easy to become Superman. Dwight Howard earned that nickname for his dominance on the court and his insanely large body when he began his career with the Orlando Magic.
Howard not only had the height, 6’ 10”, but also the muscle mass to truly look like a chiseled Greek god.
His muscle definition at his size was something that few have ever accomplished. Then, rather suddenly, he lost some size and definition and his game started to struggle. He has some amazing shoulder workouts for mass. It’s possible this was due to age and injuries catching up to the big man.
It’s also possible that Howard used steroids or HGH early in his career and then stopped either after receiving a massive contract or simply from fear of being caught.
Two of Howard’s teammates on his Magic squad, Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis, were busted for PEDs. It’s hard to believe that the most in shape and physically dominant member of that Magic roster was in the same locker room with two known users and never used.
Dwight’s dominance was incredible to witness on the court. But, his association with teammates and subsequent downfall has raised many questions about whether or not his performance was tainted.
Last But Certainly Not Least… This Athletes Performance is Constantly Being Questioned…
#10 Floyd Mayweather – Boxing
The greatest pound for pound boxer of all time got caught doping in his super (boring) fight against Manny Pacquiao.
The controversial boxer was outed for taking an extra IV before the fight that had extra vitamins and saline. While that doesn’t exactly qualify as a steroid, it is commonly used as a masking agent for steroids and other performance enhancing drugs.
It’s entirely possible that Mayweather used steroids to train harder than ever before for his mega showdown with Pac-Man, then tried to hide it.
Of course, this had to make the list strictly for the irony. It was Mayweather who kept insisting on stricter drug testing for the fight. This led to Pacquiao declining the match for many years.
Mayweather’s ego would certainly be in favor of using anything possible to gain an advantage, as he is one of the cockiest athletes of all time. It may not have been steroids, but it’s likely that Floyd Mayweather used some form of performance enhancer while training to fight because he would do literally anything on earth to win that fight.
To be the best, you have to beat the best. To some, that means cheating. And, cheating means steroids. These 10 stars have all been accused.
Are they cheaters? Only they know for sure.
By Mark Rubino