The Weirdest PEDs in Sports

Dan Carson@@DrCarson73Trending Lead WriterFebruary 5, 2013

The Weirdest PEDs in Sports

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    Steroids are so last season.

    You got to get with the times here, people—sports are changing, as are leagues’ drug testing policies. 

    Since professional sports began banning PEDs (performance enhancing drugs), the list of drugs and substances banned by sports has expanded exponentially.

    And for athletes looking to maintain an edge on the competition and stay clean in the eyes of the commissioner, that means getting creative.

    And not unsurprisingly, getting “creative” in the world of performance enhancement also means getting weird.

    So break out the deer antlers and the “flax seed” oil—it’s time for the weirdest PEDs in sports, and it’s definitely not “all natural.”

Female Fertility Pills

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    After failing a drug test in 2009, Oakland A's slugger Manny Ramirez came out and admitted to taking a substance banned by the MLB’s Joint Drug Agreement.

    His drug of choice? The female fertility booster hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin), a chemical naturally produced in women during pregnancy.

    While it sounds more an ICB (Ice cream and Bachelorette) enhancing substance, this particular female fertility drug is used by players to jumpstart their body’s natural testosterone production after coming off a steroid cycle. 

    Weirdness Level: 7

    It sounds stranger and rarer than it actually is, and Ramirez is one of several players known to have used hCG. *Cough* Jose Canseco.


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    He pitched a no-hitter. On acid.

    Former Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Dock Ellis was a talented and outspoken figure on the baseball field, but he’ll always be remembered for a wild, hitless game he pitched in 1970 against the San Diego Padres.

    Reports of the game state Ellis was pitching erratically, but managed to pull out a no-hitter despite having control issues with the ball.

    Fourteen years later, Ellis admitted he had also some control issues with his mind during the game. You know, from all that LSD he gobbled beforehand.

    Ellis claimed he took some of the hallucinogenic drug on the morning of the contest, mistakenly believing he had the day off.

    Weirdness Level: 7

    There’s no true way to confirm his admission, but if Ellis’ story is indeed true, it’s a nearly superhuman (or lucky) feat. Especially if you consider all those damn gila monsters that must’ve been crawling around him on the mound.


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    Stories began surfacing this past fall of a spike in NFL players testing positive for “amphetamines.” 

    The culprit? The study drug Adderall—an amphetamine-based stimulant designed to treat hyperactivity in patients with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).

    Although statutes in the NFL’s drug-testing agreement don’t allow the league to divulge what drugs athletes test positive for during screenings, reports indicate that at least seven NFL players have been linked to or have blamed the Adderall for positive amphetamine tests.

    Weirdness Level: 4

    Athletes are supposedly doing the drug in order to increase their focus on the field, but they’re far more likely to end up on Wikipedia conducting research on the cast of the movie Sandlot.

Deer Antler Spray

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    Wrapping up one of the weirdest months in sports history, this past January began with Manti Te’o hoaxes and has now ended with the public’s discovery of a new PED—deer antler extract.

    It all began back in October when Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis tore his triceps in a game against the Dallas Cowboys.

    Lewis was supposed to be done for the year, but somehow miraculously returned to the field 12 weeks later in time for the playoffs. 

    How did he recover so fast? Deer antler spray, according to Sports Illustrated.

    The judge is still out on whether deer antler spray actually works. (Retailers say the fast-growing properties of deer antler velvet promote healing). 

    We do know, however, that Ray Lewis’ deer antler scandal is one of the strangest things we’ve ever seen.

    Weirdness Level: 9

    Ray Lewis using deer antler spray is weird. Golfer Vijay Singh also using the stuff is strange enough to be an apocalyptic sign.


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    Bromantan was once believed to be the height of designer PEDs in sports.

    The substance was a steroid with the properties of a stimulant, and also acted as a masking agent for other harder drugs.

    Allegedly designed by the Russian military, bromantan quickly became the “rocket fuel” boosting the performance of Russia’s Olympic athletes.

    Bromantan was discovered during the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta when Russian Olympians began testing positive for the drug and the substance was banned.

    Weirdness Level: 5

    It’s not ridiculously crazy, but athletes abusing drugs designed by a nation’s military aren’t exactly a go-to for your garden-variety juice-heads.


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    Former major-leaguer Marlon Byrd turned heads when the MLB levied a 50-game suspension on the free-agent outfielder this past season for violating the league’s banned substance policy.

    And it wasn’t for your typical steroid juice.

    Byrd had tested positive for tamoxifen, a drug designed to block estrogen and slow the growth of breast tissue in patients with breast cancer.

    Tamoxifen is used to stop cells in the chest from receiving signals to replicate, and is used by players in order to stifle the side-effects of steroids such as swollen breasts.

    Weirdness Level: 8

    The fact that athletes have gone so far as utilizing the fruits of expensive breast cancer research to mask their cheating is awful, and incredibly strange.

Respiratory Inhalers

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    They don’t care if it makes them look like the guys in the AV Club at high school—something might give an athlete a competitive edge, someone is going to try it.

    Respiratory inhalers are one such item that have become common among certain sports, particularly in contests such as swimming, where lung capacity is of utmost importance.

    The belief is that non-asthmatic athletes will be gain an advantage by using an inhaler to temporarily widen the bronchi in their lungs, and therefor experience a greater intake of air at the beginning of a contest. 

    Weirdness Level: 4

    Using an inhaler is low on the weirdness spectrum, but very high on the sadness chart.

Good Old-Fashioned Brewskis

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    It’s not much in terms of “wow” factor, but Swedish pentathlete Hans-Gunner Liljenwall’s scored high on the “why?” factor after his 1968 bronze medal was stripped from him for drinking beer before the competition.

    Liljenwall claims he drank two beers in order to steady his hand before the pistol-shooting part of the pentathlon.

    Its also been said that 14 other athletes in Liljenwall’s competition tested positive for nerve-calming tranquilizers during the competition, but weren’t punished because the substance wasn’t banned at the time.

    Weirdness Level: 2

    Drink alcohol and shooting guns? That never happens.

The Deutschland Procedure

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    Kobe Bryant, Alex Rodriguez, Tiger Woods and other athletes with joint problems have scheduled visits to Germany during their playing careers in order to partake in a special blood-manipulating treatment called “platelet-rich plasma therapy.”

    The process involves isolating platelets and growth factors in the patients blood via centrifuge, and then transfusing them back into the affected area to promote healing.

    The procedure isn’t banned in sports, and Peter Wehling—the German molecular scientist administering the transfusions—claims his procedure is a cure for arthritis

    Weirdness Level: 7

    Overseas trips to Europe for blood transfusions. Eccentric molecular scientists. For all we know, he’s building a Franken-Kobe.

‘PEDsNutz’: Athlete Sperm Donor Shopping

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    ESPN covered a story on the practice of potential parents shopping around the California Cryobank—the world’s largest sperm bank—with the intent of purchasing the “sample”  of anonymous college athlete donors. 

    There’s nothing wrong with families with reproductive issues turning to donors, but purposely seeking out the specimens of the best athlete in the hopes of increasing your kid’s chances to sign a pro contract seems a little sketchy.

    Weirdness Level: 10

    Begins as an innocent inquiry into alternative fertility solutions. Ends in the Eugenics Movement.