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The US wins Olympic gold in doping

Olympics Doping Scandal

All the focus is on Russia’s state-sponsored doping program at these Games, but as the Olympics has a long and storied history of athletic prowess, it also has a long and storied history of people getting juiced up to win. As this graphic shows, Team USA has been at the forefront of the Olympic underbelly since doping first became a thing.

Stat put together a visual history of Olympics and doping. They traced the first substance violation to 1968 and Swedish pentathlete Hans-Gunnar Liljenwall, who used alcohol to go faster.

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In particular, Stat made an interactive visualization of who used what banned substance and when. By the sheer numbers, the USA is way out in front, with 18 athletes caught doping at the Summer Olympic Games. Second place goes to Russia, with 14 athletes. In fairness, the focus on summer Olympics means the recent Russian doping controversy is excluded — the country’s suspected dirty athletes weren’t allowed to compete in the first place, and doping violations in Sochi don’t count towards this graphic.

Obviously, the US is also at a disadvantage because it consistently brings the most athletes. Which country brings the most doped athletes per capita would be an interesting calculation. My gut says that Bulgaria, with nine athletes caught from their relatively small country, might be in the lead.

In any case, it’s a good reminder that while the focus on these Olympics has been on Russia’s doping, there’s plenty of other athletes (and possibly national sporting bodies) that have tried to win at all costs.