The 10 Craziest Athlete Excuses For Failed Drug Tests

By McCarton Ackerman 04/18/14

From conspiracy theories to all-night sex marathons, these star athletes were shameless in trying to escape their positive drug test results – and a few even managed to dodge the bullet.



 Javier Sotomayor (Track and Field)

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Sotomayor was riding high after winning a gold medal at the Pan American Games in 1999, but his career came to a halt after testing positive for cocaine shortly after. The Cuban athlete was stripped of his medal and sent home, but Fidel Castro declared that the positive test was a result of manipulated urine samples, while Sotomayor suggested he may have been set up by someone trying to damage the communist country’s reputation. Mario Granda, Cuba's chief of sports medicine also suggested sabotage by claiming that Sotomayor was an anti-drug crusader who had “passed more than 60 drug tests” throughout his career. His two-year suspension was cut in half due to exemplary behavior throughout his career and he was controversially allowed to compete in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. But not even Castro could save Sotomayor the following year; he tested positive for nandrolone in 2001 and retired shortly after.


Mark Bosnich (Soccer)

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Between being a member of the most popular soccer team in the world and having supermodel Sophie Anderton as his wife, Bosnich seemed to have everything going for him. But after testing positive for cocaine in 2002, he showed a complete lack of accountability by claiming he used the drug to scare Anderton into stopping her own habit. He explained in 2003. "I told her that for every line of cocaine she would take, I would take two. And that's exactly what I did." Their marriage unsurprisingly fizzled shortly after, with Bosnich later admitting that his cocaine habit was setting him back $5,000 per week. “There was a stage where I got up to 10 grams a day when I was really down in the dumps,” he revealed in 2008, the same year he filed for bankruptcy. Since then, Bosnich has gotten clean and remarried. He lives in the suburbs of Sydney and works as a sports commentator for Australian TV.


LaShawn Merritt (Track and Field)

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It was bad enough for 2008 Olympic gold medalist LaShawn Merritt to publicly deal with a positive drug test, but the track star had his dirty laundry aired out for everyone after unsuccessfully trying to blame a very personal issue on the doping charges. From October 2009 to April 2010, he failed three drug tests after testing positive for an anabolic steroid known as DHEA. But Merritt claimed he ingested the steroid unknowingly after using a male enhancement product known as ExtenZe.

With a total lack of irony, Merritt said that “to know that I've tested positive as a result of product that I used for personal reasons is extremely difficult to wrap my hands around… any penalty that I may receive for my action will not overshadow the embarrassment and humiliation that I feel inside." Doug Logan, chief executive of USA Track and Field, said that Merritt had brought "shame to himself and his teammates" and become "the object of jokes." He was given a two-year suspension in October 2010, but that ban was later reduced to 21 months and he eventually returned to competition.


Daniel Plaza (Race Walking)

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Race walking might be one of the less conventional sports at the Olympics, but Plaza used that event to become the first track and field athlete to win a gold medal for Spain at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Four years later, he tested positive for steroids and gave one hell of an excuse as to why. Plaza claimed to have given copious amounts of oral sex to his pregnant wife just days before the test and, because some pregnant women produce excess hormones, he unknowingly ingested those during the marathon session. His story lined up after negative drug tests shortly after because it would have taken months for performance-enhancing drugs to clear out of his system. However, it wasn't until 2006 that Plaza's name was cleared of any wrongdoing by a Spanish court.


Melky Cabrera (Baseball)

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San Francisco Giants standout Cabrera made a bad situation much worse after testing positive for high levels of testosterone. He was slammed with a 50-game suspension in August 2012 and publicly accepted it, but one of his associates spent $10,000 to create a bogus website selling a fake product. The alleged plan was for Cabrera to claim he inadvertently took performance-enhancing drugs through the product listed on the website, thereby allowing him to challenge the suspension, but Major League Baseball officials and federal investigators used forensic evidence to trace the website back to Cabrera.

Investigative agents from both MLB and the Food & Drug Administration began looking into Cabrera's associates, eventually determining that Juan Nunez was responsible for the website plans. Nunez said he would accept "responsibility for what everyone else already knows" and claimed to be solely responsible for the fake website. Surprisingly, Cabrera's suspension did not extend beyond the initial 50 games despite the amateur plan.


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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.