The dog ate my steroids.

The stadium scene.
Aug. 2 2005 4:50 PM

The Dog Ate My Steroids

Why athletes fail drug tests, in their own words.

"How'd I test positive? I dunno."  
Click image to expand.
"How'd I test positive? I dunno." 

Athletes don't take drugs. They ingest them, "unknowingly," "accidentally," and "unintentionally." Jaded fans can rest assured, it's never their fault.

"I am here to make it very clear that I have never intentionally used steroids. Never. Ever. Period. … I am sure you will ask how I tested positive for a banned substance. As I look back, I don't have a specific answer to give. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to explain to the arbitrator how the banned substance entered my body."
—Baltimore Orioles first baseman Rafael Palmeiro, Aug. 1, 2005

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"When [my trainer Greg Anderson] said it was flaxseed oil, I just said, 'Whatever.' … I had no doubt what he was giving me, because we were friends."
—San Francisco Giants outfielder Barry Bonds, Dec. 4, 2003, testifying to the BALCO grand jury (via San Francisco Chronicle)

"The truth of the matter is [blood] can get there certainly from a fraternal twin who has a different genetic identity. … So that's the deal."
—Dr. David Housman, who testified on cyclist Tyler Hamilton's behalf, on why tests at the Athens Olympics showed Hamilton had someone else's blood in his body (Los Angeles Times, April 17, 2005)

"I was very surprised, because I didn't know I was taking anything on the ban list. … It's my mistake for not knowing what's on the ban list. … [From now on, you] won't even see me eat a PowerBar."
—Seattle Mariners minor leaguer Ryan Christianson (Seattle Times, April 5, 2005)

"I don't take steroids, period. I bought supplements. … [I] made a mistake trusting the label."
—Seattle Mariners minor leaguer Damian Moss, who "would not name the supplements or the manufacturer, saying he didn't want to get any companies in trouble" (Seattle Times, April 5, 2005)

"I don't want to make a big deal. We went out one night and had some fun and I tested positive. … We went out and partied and had what I thought was a good time."
—Chicago Bears safety Damon Moore (Chicago Sun-Times, Sept. 11, 2002)

"Of course I can't be 100% certain that anybody [spiked my drink] but I can't see any other way. … You can't lock [drinks] away every time you take a vault, so it's possible."
—Pole-vaulter Janine Whitlock, July 19, 2002, after testing positive for steroids at the Commonwealth Games

"He really doesn't understand why a test came out this way. He wants to explore that. He clearly has not intentionally taken anything to cause a positive test."
—Mitch Frankel, agent for Cleveland Indians pitcher Rafael Betancourt (Cleveland Plain Dealer, July 10, 2005)

"For many years, I've been taking this blood test and I've never had problems. I put it down to female physiology."
—Cross-country skier Larissa Lazutina, after a test at the 2002 Winter Olympics revealed abnormal levels of hemoglobin (Washington Post, Feb. 25, 2002)

"Nobody on the planet could say that I don't love my wife and I don't love my kids. … I have never in my life, nor would I ever, do anything to jeopardize their opinion of me. I don't know what has happened and I don't know how it has happened. I promise everybody I'm going to find out."
—Shot-putter C.J. Hunter, Sept. 25, 2000, after failing four separate tests for anabolic steroids

"I know I did nothing incorrect. ... I take stuff I buy over the counter. Multivitamins, protein shakes, muscle relaxants. That kind of stuff … I'm surprised because look at what kind of player I am. I'm a leadoff hitter. I never hit any home runs."
—Then-Devil Rays outfielder Alex Sanchez, April 4, 2005

"[My coach] had given me this pill and I had taken it. He told me it was not a steroid and that it would just keep you 'up' so you wouldn't be so fatigued."
—Sprinter Calvin Harrison, after testing positive for the stimulant modafinil (Guardian, Oct. 27, 2003)

"I never intentionally put anything in my body which I thought was illegal. … People think you sit around and stick needles in you, and it's not like that. Seventy percent of the stuff you get at [General Nutrition Center], you test positive for under the policy."
—Cleveland Indians minor leaguer Darnell McDonald (Buffalo News, May 23, 2005)

"She was bringing them from Lithuania for my mother-in-law."
—Cyclist Raimondas Rumsas, July 30, 2002, after his wife was found with EPO and testosterone in the trunk of her car

Josh Levin is Slate's executive editor.

Rachael Larimore is a Slate senior editor.

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