The 10 Craziest Athlete Excuses For Failed Drug Tests
Petr Korda (Tennis)
A veteran of the ATP Tour for over a decade, Petr Korda came out of nowhere to win the 1998 Australian Open title and endeared fans with a bizarre scissor kick after each of his wins. But it was revealed that December that the Czech player tested positive for the banned steroid nandrolone. Korda blamed the positive test on eating too much steroid-fed veal, but the International Tennis Federation quickly shut down this argument after an internal investigation. They reported that he would have had to eat 40 calves a day for 20 years in order to obtain the levels of nandrolone found in his body.
His fellow players were outraged when Korda was stripped of ranking points and prize money won at Wimbledon that year, but not banned from the tour. The ITF eventually suspended him for 12 months in September 2009, but he had already retired from competitive tennis the previous summer and still maintains his innocence to this day.
Dennis Mitchell (Track and Field)
This might be one of the few times when someone would say a positive drug test was worth it. Mitchell, a 1992 Olympic gold medalist in the 4 x 100 meters relay race, tested positive in 1998 for high levels of testosterone. He chalked up the drug test result to downing five beers the night before and having sex with his wife at least four times, explaining that “it was her birthday. The lady deserved a treat.” USA Track and Field shockingly accepted his Energizer Bunny ways as a valid explanation, but the IAAF did not and suspended Mitchell for two years. In 2008, he testified as a witness in the U.S. government trial against Trevor Graham, admitting that the Jamaican-born sprinter had injected him with human growth hormone.
Floyd Landis (Cycling)
Landis seemed to take the old adage of throwing crap at the wall until something sticks a bit too literally. After the 2006 Tour de France winner tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone, he threw out a kitchen sink of reasons as to why he tested positive. He was widely panned for initially blaming a whiskey-fueled night out for the elevated testosterone before telling Good Morning America that “the whiskey idea was not mine from the beginning.” His defense team then offered other explanations including cortisone shots taken for pain in his hip, thyroid medication and his natural metabolism. Landis even admitted that “if I was watching from the outside, it would look like I didn’t know what I was talking about.” He was eventually banned from the sport for two years in September 2007 and stripped of his Tour de France title. After four years of defending himself, Landis finally admitted to doping in May 2010, although he denied using testosterone during his Tour de France victory.
Justin Gatlin (Track and Field)
An Olympic champion in the 100-meter dash, Gatlin tested positive in April 2006 for excess levels of testosterone, just three months after kicking off the 2006 season with a world record performance in Doha. Facing a lifetime ban from the sport, he told reporters that July that he unwittingly had testosterone cream rubbed into his legs by a massage therapist with a grudge against him. His coach, Trevor Graham, also supported the accusation, but Graham’s support didn’t amount to much because when it comes to drugs, he is one of the most notorious coaches in the history of athletics; eight of his pupils have tested positive or received bans for performance-enhancing drugs. The massage therapist, Christopher Whestine, also denied the claim. Gatlin agreed to an eight-year ban from the sport in August 2006, avoiding a lifetime ban because of his cooperation with authorities. In December 2007, the ban was reduced to four years and he eventually returned to competition.
Richard Gasquet (Tennis)
The French tennis star kissed a girl and the ATP Tour didn’t like it. Gasquet suddenly withdrew from a tournament in Miami in March 2009 and it was revealed that May that he had been given a two-year ban after testing positive for cocaine. He vehemently denied using the drug and revealed that the cocaine found in his system amounted to one-tenth of a line. Gasquet told an investigative tribunal that he kissed a girl at a nightclub who had been using the drug and that it got into his system through their contact. The International Tennis Federation accepted his explanation and cleared him to return to competition that July, but Gasquet had already missed the French Open and Wimbledon that year. Ironically, his explanation about kissing a girl came two years after Gasquet denied rumors that he having an affair with a married businessman 25 years older than him.
McCarton Ackerman has been a regular contributor to The Fix since 2011. He last wrote about tennis champ Sally Greer.