Doping and sports - 1975


The International Olympic Committee added the anabolic steroids to its list of prohibited products.

American Football

From mid 1970 to 1980, the Pittsburgh Steelers were said to have one of the most advanced power programs in professional football and one of the most physical playing styles. More importantly, the Steelers in that period not only dominated the NFL, but were also the best in the Strongest Man competition. Some of the athletes who contributed to this success used anabolic steroids.

The testimony of former NFL players supported the escalating use of steroids from the late 1970s. Pat Donovan (1953-), nine years offensif lineman of the Dallas Cowboys, declared after his active career:

"Anabolic steroids were extremely well accepted in the NFL, and during my last six years, 60 to 70% of the Cowboys used, both on the offensive and defensive lines."

In the same article, Fred Smerlas (1957-) of the Buffalo Bills stated that 40% of all NFL players used anabolic steroids.

"In some teams 75 to 90% of players use steroids,"

Lyle Alzado (1949-1992) reported. The former defensif lineman of the Los Angeles Raiders was one of the most famous American athletes who admitted that he used anabolic steroids. He lost the battle against a brain tumor that, according to him, was the result of his steroid abuse. Shortly before his death he recorded in Sports Illustrated:

"I started taking anabolic steroids in 1969 and never stopped. It was addicting, mentally addicting. Now I'm sick, and I'm scared. Ninety percent of the athletes I know are on the stuff. We're not born to be 300 lb (140 kg) or jump 30 ft (9.1 m). But all the time I was taking steroids, I knew they were making me play better. I became very violent on the field and off it. I did things only crazy people do. Once a guy sideswiped my car and I beat the hell out of him. Now look at me. My hair's gone, I wobble when I walk and have to hold on to someone for support, and I have trouble remembering things. My last wish? That no one else ever dies this way."


Bill Lee (1946-), a pitcher in the American Major League Baseball, confessed his drug use to a journalist with the motivation that marijuana made him unresponsive to the fumes of buses during jogging. The Spaceman, in his own words, sprinkled the product even on his pancakes.


After he retired from active cycling in 1982, French rider Bernard Thevenet (1948-) confessed that he had won the 1975 Tour de France thanks to cortisone. Yet he reacted indignantly when he was caught in Paris during Paris in 1977:

"I have never taken drugs, they do not serve anything."

In the 1978 season he was only a shadow of the years before, with difficulty he could finish smaller races. When a journalist from the France Inter radio station wondered aloud whether his bad performance was not due to doping, Thevenet still refused to talk to the station. Because of his poorer performance, he went to a hospital where the research showed serious problems with the adrenal glands. Promptly he admitted the use of steroids and he called for an end to drugs in the sport.

"I was doped with cortisone for three years and there were many such as I. That experience spoiled my health," he confessed to Pierre Chany (1922-1996), the journalist at Vélo-France.

The steroids were prescribed to him by François Bellocq (1946-1993), Peugeot's team physician.

"We were all convinced that we were doing well and we knew with certainty that we were ahead of the rest. Our young team doctor patiently explained how the body reacts to efforts, and no one had ever done that before. His words convinced us of his competence and perhaps we were overconfident, but I had the feeling that he took us from the previous experiments (l'empirisme habituel) to guide us in a more methodical and scientific way. From that moment on, everything that was said about us appeared to us as the result of ignorance, jealousy or malice, I felt good and was really convinced that I was practicing my profession seriously, from 1975 until recently. "

Belgian rider Erik de Vlaeminck (1945-2015) never tested positive during his sport career, but after his career in a psychiatric institution he was treated for amphetamine addiction. There are many stories about his wild behavior after competitions. He himself refused to speak out of this period in his life.