Top 10 Sports Figures Whose Careers are Tarnished by Steroids


Since the beginning of time sports and competition have been a foundation in all societies.  From the Roman gladiators to the modern day sports heroes one thing is constant.  Children and adults alike look up to these men and woman.  With the epidemic of steroids, human growth hormone, and performance enhancing drugs in sports the last 25 years what example are we setting.  Some of the most prolific football, baseball, and Olympians of our time have cheated.  They took their checks, fame, metals, and rings, but what about being a good role model for the next generation.  This list consists of some of the most prolific sports figures that have used or been accused of using performance enhancing drugs and will always suffer the consequences from it, at least in my eyes.  Note that a few of the athletes on this list have denied steroid use and have not been confirmed users.

10. Shawne Merriman, NFL, San Diego Chargers


Shawne was drafted in the first round (12th Overall) in the 2005 NFL draft out of the University of Maryland.  He quickly made himself known as one on the quickest and dominant outside linebackers in the game.  Merriman has 39.5 career sacks in his first 43 NFL games.  He has 189 tackles, was the 2005 Defensive Rookie of the Year, and has been selected to 3 Pro Bowls.  On October 22, 2006 Merriman was given a 4 game suspension by the NFL for testing positive for an anabolic steroid.  I guess we know what helped make Shawne one of the most feared players today.  His suspension has led to the NFL rule that no player that has tested positive for steroids can be selected to the Pro Bowl or given any performance awards in the year they test positive.  Merriman makes $11.5 millions dollars a year playing football. (Picture of Merriman)

9. Jose Canseco
, MLB, (1985-2001)

Jose Canseco was drafted in the 15th round of the 1982 MLB draft.  He was known for his power and was a modestly good player.  He ended up with 462 home runs in his 16 year career.  Jose did not make this list for his on field accomplishments, but rather he was the first athlete to come out and say I took steroids and so did a lot of other players.  He published the tell all book Juiced Wild Times, Rampant ‘Roids which not only chronicled his steroid use throughout his career, but told of a huge problem in major league baseball.  Over the years many of Jose’s claims and accusations have come to be very factual in describing specific players who used steroids.  Some of the players that Canseco claimed to have used are Mark McGwire, Jason Giambi, Rafael Palmeiro, Ivan Rodriguez, and Juan Gonzalez.

8. Rafael Palmeiro, MLB, (1986-2005)

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Rafael Palmeiro was drafted in the 1st round (22 Pick) of the 1985 MLB draft.  In his 20 year career he had 3,020 hits and 569 home runs.  He is one of 4 players in history to be a member of both the 3,000 hits and 500 home run clubs.  He was one of the best hitters in the MLB for 20 years.  On March 17, 2005 Palmeiro appeared at a Congressional hearing on steroids after being accused of using performance enhancing drugs.  While under oath Palmeiro denied every using steroids.  On August 1st 2005 he was suspended for 10 games by MLB for testing positive for the anabolic steroid stanozolol.  By the end of the month Palmeiro had played his last game.  Rafael Palmeiro also appeared in the Mitchell Report on steroids alleging that he used anabolic steroids throughout his career.

7. Ben Johnson, Canadian Olympic Sprinter

Ben Johnson is a Canadian sprinter that competed in the 100 m during the 1980’s.  He emerged as one of the top competitors in the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Games.  Johnson won 2 bronze medals in the 1984 Olympics (100m & 4x100m Relay).  That wasn’t enough and he needed that extra step to get by champion Carl Lewis.  Johnson was a Canadian hero and he set consecutive 100m World Records at the 1987 World Championships and 1988 Summer Olympics, 9.79 Seconds.  On September 27 three days after winning the 1988 Olympic Gold he tested positive for the anabolic steroid stanozolol and was ripped of his gold medal and 1987 World Championship title.  Canada was horrified and Johnson was never the same again.  The rest of his career was riddled with injuries, which is the case for a lot of steroid users who become more injury prone later in their careers.  (Here is the 1988 100m Olympic final, check out his yellow eyes

6. Floyd Landis, American Cyclist


Floyd Landis is a cyclist that won the 2006 Tour de France.  Going into the race Landis was considered a dark horse with little possibility of placing.  He dominated the treacherous hill stages of the race where he was predicted to slow.  Shortly after the Tour de France on July 27, 2006 the Phonak Cycling team announced that Floyd Landis had a urine test come back positive for a high ratio of the hormone testosterone.  Which is a performance enhancing drug and he was stripped of his Tour de France title and dismissed from his professional cycling team.  Landis had three times the amount of natural testosterone in his body.  I agree that Floyd Landis is not a prolific American sports figure and should always be remembered as that guy that needed a little extra to win.  He made U.S. cycling and all of America look bad and brought negative attention to Lance Armstrong, who has also been accused of using performance enhancing drugs himself.

5. Kostas Kenteris & Ekaterini Thanou, Greek Olympians

Kostas Kenteris is a Greek sprinter who competed in the 200m and 400m races.  He is a decorated and popular athlete in Greece and won the gold medal in the 200m at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.  He also won the gold at the 2001 World Championships and 2002 European Championships.  Ekaterini Thanou is also a Greek Olympic sprinter who won a silver medal in the 100 m at the 2000 Olympic Games.  She has numerous medals from other international competitions.  Both of these sprinters came into the 2004 Olympics as the biggest hopes for the home crowd in Athens.  On the day prior to the games Kenteris and his training partner Thanou failed to show up for a mandatory and scheduled drug test.  The two claimed to have been in a car accident that prevented them from making the test.  The accident was found to be staged and they both withdrew from the games claiming it was in the best interest of their country.  They never tested positive, but the evidence says it all.  It was truly one of the biggest Olympic scandals in history.

4. Barry Bonds, MLB (1986-Present)

Barry Bonds is considered one of the best major league baseball players ever to play.  He holds the record for most career home runs with 762.  Bonds has been voted to 14 All-Star games, has a whopping 7 MVP awards, and has 8 Gold Glove Awards.  In 2003 Bonds became part of a steroid scandal when Greg Anderson of BALCO was indicted by the federal grand jury and charged with supplying anabolic steroids to athletes.  Bonds has declared his innocence besides all of the evidence against him.  Just take a look at how his body image has changed from the beginning of his career to his record setting seasons late in his career.  Kids if you want to know what will happen to you if you take steroids just look at Barry’s head.  Barry Bonds was indicted by the federal government on perjury and obstruction of justice charges on November 15, 2007.  He is currently a free agent and has complained that no team will pick him up even for the league minimum salary.  What organization would want to deal with an upcoming trial this March?  Bonds made a record high 188 million dollars in his 22 year career.  (Video of Bonds coming in and out of court

3. Alex Rodriguez, MLB (1994-Present)

Yes Alex Rodriguez is on this list to stay.  Rodriguez is considered one of the best all around baseball players of all time.  He is the youngest player to reach 500 home runs and is well on his way to becoming the all time home run leader by surpassing Barry Bonds.  Rodriguez is a 12 time All-Star selection, has a career batting average of .306, and has 3 MVP Awards (2003, 2005, 2007).  On February 9, 2009 Alex Rodriguez admitted to using banned anabolic steroids and performance enhancing drugs during the 2001-2003 seasons.  Major league baseball didn’t have a steroid policy in place until the 2004 season, so Alex is not subject to punishment from the league.  He tested positive during a 2003 league survey test in which 104 major league players tested positive for steroids.  In my eyes his argument as one of the best baseball players ever has already ended.  The Cooler, A-Fraud call him what you want.  Alex Rodriguez is by far the highest paid player in baseball.  In December 2007 Rodriguez and the Yankees agreed to a 10 year 275 Million dollar contract.  He also gets a bonus of $30 million if he breaks the all time home run record of 762.

2. Marion Jones, U.S. Olympian

Marion Jones is a United States track star who has won numerous medals in international competition.  She won 5 medals at the 2000 Olympic Games excelling at the 100m, 200m, and high jump.  After much speculation and controversy in October 2007 Jones admitted that she used anabolic steroids and other performance enhancing drugs before the 2000 Olympics.  She was stripped of all of her medals since the year 2000, including all Olympic medals.  Since high school Marion had been accused of doping directly and indirectly because of her size and ability.  When she competed Marion Jones was huge and she towered over her competition.  Jones admitted lying to friends, press, and 2 grand juries about using steroids.  She was suspended from competition for 2 years and retired on October 5, 2007.  She also was arrested and given a 6 month prison term which she started serving March 7, 2008 and was released September 5, 2008.  Marion Jones used to be one of the most decorated and admired American athletes.  Now she is looked at as a cheat, someone who needed drugs to get that edge over her competition.

1. Roger Clemens, MLB (1984-2007)

It is a toss up between these last few athletes, but Roger Clemens has topped this list purely because he is regarded as the best pitcher ever to play major league baseball.  Roger Clemens is part of the coveted 300 win club with 354 career wins.  He has a career ERA of 3.12, 4,672 strike outs, and a record 7 Cy Young awards.  Clemens was accused by the Mitchell report on steroid abuse of taking anabolic steroids.  He was mentioned 82 times in that report.  His former trainer Brian McNamee claimed to have injected Clemens with winstrol during the 1998, 2000, and 2001 seasons.  On February 13, 2008 Roger Clemens appeared in front of the Congressional Committee along with McNamee and swore under oath that he never injected steroids into his body.  McNamee proclaimed the exact opposite and one of the men was lying.  In my opinion it is clear that Clemens has more to lose and has fabricated stories.  He will get his day in court just like Barry Bonds and Marion Jones.  Roger Clemens is one of the most recognizable sports figures in the world and his decisions influence children of all ages.

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  1. Charles Campbell on

    The baseball players were not guilty of anything while using steroids as the substances were not illegal at the time. Their guilt comes in lying about it afterwards. A steroid is not going to give you better eye/hand control of give you more speed on the ball. You are not going to throw a better breaking pitch on steroids. However they do give you the power to bounce back sooner from fatigue and possible injury.

  2. Anabolic Steroids when used in sports can be considered as cheating. Is it still cheating when all the players are using Steroids? Lets get real people, Jose Canseco had a lot of courage when he admitted to steroid use. Here is a man admitting to the use of illegal substances. His reason? Everyone else is also using them. Steroids have positive effects on the male body especially when used by males with a low level of natural Testosterone production. I think it would be fair to consider both the positive and negatives of Steroid use.

  3. Steroid abusers should be permanently banned from their sport. They are cheaters and liars that are breaking the law.

  4. Informative list. Love seeing what Congress had been wasting so much time with instead of actually passing laws that could, I don’t know, help the people who put them in office? They all (Congress) need to serve jail time for WASTING MONEY. Who cares who is using steroids in sports?

  5. Well, I just dont care. It is not a crime as far as i know it. It is not like he is the only one with access to it. it is open to ANYONE WHO WANTS IT.

  6. What about the (un-named) ten tennis players that the BBC exposed as having failed tests for steroids? The ATP exonerated them and kept it quiet. Or Agassi and meth? Would playing tennis that be performance enhancing or just bizarre?

    And to A6m4- The evidence that steroids improvement performance in baseball is here for all to see…these are amongst the most massive names and most succesful players of all-time. You can quibble about whether they are the absolute best, but the whole sport is devalued when these often fatal drugs are being routinely taken by average players who then become mega-stars.

    Most of baseball may well be mental, but the small advantages given by steriods obviously make a massive difference. The obvious answer is to make steriods legal in baseball, at least then we would have a level playing field with everyone equally drugged up and given a chance to showcase their natural skills. And if they drop dead prematurely, then who cares as long as they have entertained us?

  7. Roger Clemens, the best pitcher of all time? I think not. Look at Warren Spahn, more wins, fewer seasons on a consistently bad team. I think that part of Clemens' stats were helped by the teams he played for, the Yankees in particular. I will give him some credit for having half as many complete games a Spahn. I would hardly say that he is the best there ever was, although I would call him one of the better pitchers lately.

    But there are others, Nolan Ryan comes to mind, a full 1,000 Ks more than Clemens.

    Let me see if I can put this down right without anybody misunderstanding me…Why is it that people get so head over heels mad angry about baseball players using steroids WHEN IT WAS LEGAL. I understand the issue of steroids being bad for you in the end. But it still remains that there wasn't even a mention of steroid use until I believe '94 (whenever it was it was in the 90's), but even that was an implication, something that can never be binding. It wasn't explicitly illegal until 2004. In my opinion the use of steroids in that time was nothing different than the use of greenies in the 80's and early 90's.

    Also, somebody mentioned above a tendency of steroids to make somebody big. A-Rod did get bigger looking at his rookie card and a current picture. But steroids dont necessarily make you bigger or buffer.

    One more thing, I try to figure out why people seem to think that steroids are so effective in making a player better. If they aren't used correctly they can actually be very inhibitive in a player's performance. You never want extreme upper body strength in baseball, you want extreme strength in your core and lower body; you want your muscles that pivot your body at your waist to get stronger. Either way, you still have to hit the ball, you still have to catch the ball, you still have to throw the ball. Most of baseball is mental, seeing, reacting. larger muscles inhibit quick reactions.

    Personally I think the focus needs to head over to the NFL and all of the conduct issues with some of its players, that would seem to be the real damaging influence on the youth of America.

  8. Roger Clemens is not regarded as the best pitcher ever. . .at least not by anyone who knows baseball

  9. You know, the most sports from above are only played in the United States. How can you say that they are the top ten? nobody ever heard of Roger Clemens for instance. And beside NBA, nothing is interesting for the rest of the world. Most of them have no idea what MLB means.

  10. Good point Larry. The entire list could have been baseball players, but I wanted to show that steroids are a problem in all sports. I would have been happy with A-Fraud, Bonds, or Clemens topping the list.



  13. Kristine Morris on

    This was a great list. Glad to see someone calling out all the players for using 'roids.

  14. if A-Rod (A-Roid?) had used steroids i would have expected him to get a lot more "huge" like Bonds of McGwire