Setting the benchmarks above which an athlete is deemed to be a drug cheat is a difficult issue for sporting bodies. High levels of hormones do not always indicate cheating, and low levels do not always guarantee innocence. For example, Finnish cross-country skiing champion Eero Mäntyranta, who won two gold medals in the 1964 Winter Olympics, had a genetic mutation which enabled him to produce unusually high levels of erythropoietin (EPO). How can we set fair benchmarks that catch the cheats but don’t return false positives on athletes operating by the rules?
Marion Jones is a United States track star who has won numerous medals in international competition. She won 5 medals at the 2000 Olympic Games excelling at the 100m, 200m, and high jump. After much speculation and controversy in October 2007 Jones admitted that she used anabolic steroids and other performance enhancing drugs before the 2000 Olympics. She was stripped of all of her medals since the year 2000, including all Olympic medals. Since high school Marion had been accused of doping directly and indirectly because of her size and ability. When she competed Marion Jones was huge and she towered over her competition. Jones admitted lying to friends, press, and 2 grand juries about using steroids. She was suspended from competition for 2 years and retired on October 5, 2007. She also was arrested and given a 6 month prison term which she started serving March 7, 2008 and was released September 5, 2008. Marion Jones used to be one of the most decorated and admired American athletes. Now she is looked at as a cheat, someone who needed drugs to get that edge over her competition.