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The news of admitted steroid use by sprinter Marion Jones got me thinking about performance enhancing drugs in the world of soccer. Even in such a skeptical world soccer has seemingly escaped the magnifying glass. While baseball, football, cycling and track and field draw the most scrutiny, suspicions of soccer players does not run as high.

That doesn’t mean there haven’t been instances of banned substances being used. There have been some high profile drug run-ins, like Jaap Stam and Edgar Davids in 2001 for taking nandrolene. Also, in 2007 defender Sergei Sokolov was suspended for 18 months for corticosteroid and SL Benfica midfielder Nuno Assis and AC Milan striker Marco Borriello failed doping tests.

Still none of these players are as big in their sport as a Jones or Barry Bonds.

That doesn’t mean performance enhancers aren’t used in soccer. While there is testing, the cheaters always figure out a way to get by. But I still find it hard to figure out way steroids or HGH would be used in soccer. The sport has never been about being the biggest or even the fastest. While physical talents obviously can impact a game, soccer is a sport where technical skill can overcome physical prowess. Now some performance enhancers can help a player’s endurance and recovery, something that is very vital to the game, soccer players do not need the endurance of say a cyclist. A cyclist travels hundreds of miles on consecutive days, while a soccer player may run seven or more miles in a game and then have a few days off.

But in a sports world where everyone is looking to get ahead in any possible way, performance-enhancing drugs cannot be ruled out of soccer. So the same rules apply as they do to every other sport: Be cautious but until the big scandal comes there is no need to be a cynic.


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  1. It’s about speed and endurance, both of which can be enhanced.

  2. i love this site very much and i think soccer is spectacular and flaborgasting.