Doping and sports - 1970


In the 1970s the anabolic steroids were used en masse, after a detection method had been found, the IOC added them in 1976 to the list of prohibited substances.

In the United States illegal trade, illicit possession and illicit manufacturing of amphetamines were punishable, but a doctor was allowed to continue prescribing the product.

It is suspected that at least one hundred deaths from doping use were caused in the early 1970s.

American Football

Vic Washington (1946-2008), an All-Pro running back at the San Francisco 49ers, described the use of cocaine in the NFL as follows:

"At that time it was regarded a means of cultivating sharpness among the players ... We were embroiled in a war and the use of cocaine was considered as a way to keep us spiritually sharp." At that moment I did not understand, because I lived outside of reality. Professional football is not a reality."


German national trainer shot put Werner Heger (1942-) admitted in no uncertain terms that 90% of his disciples used anabolics.


The amphetamine use in the Major League Baseball became well-known when Jim Bouton (1939-), the former pitcher of the New York Yankees and author of the controversial book 'Ball Four', admitted in 1970 that he had used the stuff and that he estimated that 40% of all players did the same. Bouton argued that the drugs gave a false sense of security:

"The problem is that they make you feel so big that you think you are smoking if you do not. The result is that you become exuberant, kick a mess and get a beating."

Dock Phillip Ellis (1945-2008), pitcher in the American Major League Baseball, later admitted that he threw a no-hitter in 1970 under the influence of LSD, a baseball term that indicated that the opposing team could not hit any of his throws. He was often under the influence of both drugs and alcohol, but went into rehab and became one of the advocates of drug control. He started drinking at the age of 14 and he died of a liver disease at the age of 63.


Despite the structural weakness in the doping battle, cyclists tested positive during doping tests between 1960 and 1980. Among others, the Tour de France winners were Eddy Merckx (1945-), Felice Gimondi (1942-), Lucien Aimar (1941-), Luis Ocaña (1945-1994), Bernard Thevenet (1948-), Joop Zoetemelk (1946-), Laurent Fignon (1960-2010) and Pedro Delgado (1960-) and the German riders Rudi Altig (1937-2016) and Dietrich Thurau (1954-). Many other top riders admitted their doping use during or after their sports career, such as Fausto Coppi (1919-1960), Jacques Anquetil (1934-1987), Rik Van Steenbergen (1924-2003), Roger Pingeon (1940-2017), Freddy Maertens (1952-) and Peter Winnen (1957-). However, both the legal and the public convictions were mild during this period, usually the tested riders were only disqualified for the match in question. Public opinion experienced the doping problem as a side-effect. In that respect, the caught riders had to expect hardly any penalties.


Brazilian football international Vava (1934-2002) admitted his doping use in an interview with the French magazine 'Miroir Sprint'.

"Doping is at our daily livelihood. When I played for Palmeiras, I was forced to take dope, and a colleague told me that this practice also existed at his club Pernambuco."

In March 1970 Julio Cortes (1941-) and Omar Caetano (1938-2008) of Penarol de Montevideo tested positive during the competition in Uruguay.


Until the 1970s, the foreplayers of the rugby teams ate at every game of wild boar meat, while the players of the midfield consumed venison.


In 1970 nine out of twelve medal winners tested positive for amphetamines at the World Championship weightlifting in the US Columbus.