Doping and sports - 1996 - Olympics

1996 Olympics

The Atlanta Olympics in Atlanta were jokingly called the 'Growth Hormone Games', despite the fact that the International Olympic Committee invested $ 2.6 million in the development of methods that allowed reliable detection of growth hormones.

In March, Alexandre de Merode (1934-2002), chairman of the IOC medical committee, announced that scientists had succeeded in developing a 'reliable method' that could detect the presence of erythropoietin (EPO). EPO accelerates the production of red blood cells and contributes to the regeneration of the body.


Norwegian canoeist Peter Ribe (1966-) was caught on doping just before the Games, after which he was sent home with a three-month suspension on top.


Cyclist Rita Razmaite (1967-) from Lithuania tested positive on Bromantan during the Olympics. Together with her Russian coach Boris Vasilyev (1937-2000) and her Belarusian sports physician Vitaly Slionssarenko she was suspended by the IOC. That suspension was subsequently withdrawn because the product was only put on the list of prohibited products on 5 July of that year.


Just before the Olympics, Canadian rider Eric Lamaze (1968-) was suspended for four years because he had used cocaine. Four years later, he qualified for the Sydney Games, but again failed a doping test, whereupon he wanted to commit suicide. In the end he turned out fine, because in Beijing 2008 he won the silver medal with his team and the gold medal individually.


Just like four years ago, Cuban judoka Estela Rodríguez Villanueva (1967-) won the silver medal at the half heavy weights. Afterwards she tested positive for the forbidden diuretic Lasix, but strangely enough she was allowed to keep het medal and she only received an admonition.


Irish swimmer Michelle Smith (1969-) won four gold medals, but had to hand in her medals later because she had manipulated her urine samples.

Nina Zhivanevskaya (1977-) was caught using Bromantan during the Games. The Russian backstroke swimmer was suspended immediately and excluded from further participation. That suspension was subsequently withdrawn because the product was only put on the list of prohibited substances on July 5 of that year. Afterwards she met a Spaniard, with whom she married. From 1999 on, the former European youth champion swam for Spain.

Russian swimmer Andrey Korneyev (1974-2014) won the bronze medal 200m breaststroke, but his pee afterwards showed that he had also used bromantan. He was not suspended because the product was only put on the list of prohibited products on July 5 of that year. He died at the age of 40 from stomach cancer.

Track and Field

Russian athlete Marina Trandenkova (1967-) finished fifth in the final of the 100m, but then delivered a positive pee on bromantan. She was not suspended because the product did not appear on the list of prohibited products until July 5 of that year.

Irish 5,000m runner Marie McMahon (1975-) had used an OTC product containing phenylpropenolamine for her cold. Because of these mitigating circumstances, she only received a warning.

Bulgarian triple jumper Iva Prandzheva (1972-) was sent home after metadion was found in her urine.

Russian Natalia Shechodanowa (1971-) finished seventh in the 100m hurdles final, but when it was discovered that she had done so with the help of stanozolol she was removed from the lists. In 2004 she got in troubles again and was suspended for life.

Italian Antonella Bevilacqua (1971-) finished fourth in the high jump, but was removed from the result when appeared that she had been caught twice a month before the Games on the use of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine. She herself argued that these substances were present in her weight loss pills. The Italian association believed her but was rebuffed internationally.

Australian Dean Capobianco (1970-) participated in the 200m. When it later became apparent that he had been guilty of using the anabolic steroid Stanazolol at a meeting in Hengelo just before the Games, he was suspended for four years, which was later reduced to two years.

Jamaica-born American Sandra Marie Farmer-Patrick (1962) participated at the 400m hurdles in which she had won the silver medal four years earlier. In Atlanta she was removed from the lists after testosterone was found in her blood.

Mary Decker (1958-) qualified for the 5,000m at the age of 37, but ended up in a controversy. The urine sample taken on the American trials in June showed a testosterone/epitestosterone ratio that was higher than allowed and therefore she was suspended. Her lawyers argued afterwards that the T/E ratio test is unreliable for women older than 30 who take birth control pills. In 1999 she received restitution from the IAAF, but an arbitration committee suspended her again. She then prosecuted both the IAAF and the U.S. Olympic Committee. However, the Court ruled that it had no jurisdiction and the punishment was retained in appeal.


After Russian wrestler Zafar Guliyev (1972-) won the European Greco-Roman style three times in a row, he captured the bronze medal at the Olympcs. The doping control afterwards however was positive for the stimulant Bromantan, which masks the use of EPO. Russian protest against this disqualification caused him to keep the bronze medal because mistakes were made in the lab. Together with him, five other 'Bromatan sinners' were acquitted, although all remained on the IOC's doping list. Afterwards, all this was revoked because the product was only put on the list of related products on July 5 of that year.