15 Most Notorious Drug Abusers In Sports
Drug Use is a Social Fact
Along with Karl Marx and Max Weber, Emile Durkheim is considered to be one of the father's of sociology. Durkheim was France's first professor of sociology and he extensively studied suicide rates in Catholic and Protestant populations. One of the theories that Durkheim developed was what he called "social facts" which argues that there are phenomena in this world that have an existence in and of themselves; these phenomena are not bound to the actions of individuals but they have a coercive influence upon them. Durkheim applied this theory to suicide.
Durkheim observed that the individuals who populate a society do not directly cause suicide: suicide, as a social fact, exists independently in society, and is caused by other social facts, whether an individual likes it or not. Whether or not an individual leaves a society does not change anything to the fact that the society will still contain suicides; suicide, like other social facts, exists independently of the will of an individual and cannot be eliminated, just like physical laws such as gravity.
Durkheim's theory of social facts can also be applied to drug use. Whether or not an individual drug user enters or leaves a society, they have no influence whatsoever on the existence and use of drugs in society as a whole. Durkheim would argue that because drugs exist, there will always be people out there coerced for some reason or another into using them. Drugs, like suicide, will always be a part of society no matter what laws or regulations are put in place to keep them out of use.
Professional sports, as a population, have shown us time and again that drug use is indeed a social fact. Drugs have been existent in sports in the past, they are in the present and they most certainly will still be there in the future. Let's take a look at 15 of the most notorious drug abusers in sports.
14. Jose Canseco
In 2005, Jose Canseco admitted to using anabolic steroids and he also ratted out most of baseball -- claiming that up to 85 percent of major league players took steroids. Canseco published a book titled Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits & How Baseball Got Big where he specifically identified former teammates Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Jason Giambi, Ivan Rodriguez and Juan Gonzalez as fellow steroid users. Few players have been as open about steroids in professional sports as Canseco has.
13. Darryl Strawberry
Darryl Strawberry was a four-time World Series Champion, two-time Silver Slugger and an eight-time MLB All-Star. Strawberry was arrested in 1999 when he solicited sex from a police officer while he was carrying cocaine. He went on to make several stays in prison, but has recently cleaned up his life; he appeared on The Apprentice in 2010 and is beloved by New York Met fans.
12. Bob Probert
The late Bob Probert was one of the most admired and revered enforcers in the history of the NHL. Probert played for the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks and is well remembered as being one half of the "Bruise Brothers" (during his time with Detroit) with teammate Joey Kocur and he is fifth all-time with 3,300 penalty minutes.
In 1989, Probert was arrested for cocaine possession while crossing the Detroit-Windsor border. He served three months in a federal prison, three more months in a halfway house and was indefinitely suspended from the NHL. On July 15, 1994, Probert crashed his motorcycle into a wall in Michigan. Police determined that his blood-alcohol level was approximately triple the legal limit and there were trace amounts of cocaine found in his system. On July 19, senior vice-president Jim Devellano announced that the Red Wings would not be re-signing Probert and acknowledged that he had never seen the team spend more time on a player and their problems than they did with Probert.
11. Nate Newton
Nate Newton was a six-time Pro Bowler and a key member of the Dallas Cowboys' dynasty of the 90s. Once his career was over, though, he found himself in a bit of trouble. On Nov. 4, 2001, police found 213 pounds of marijuana in Newton's van; five weeks later he was caught with 175 pounds of marijuana in his van … that's 388 pounds over a five-week span. Newton was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison and has since cleaned up his life and now works for ESPN Dallas.
10. Len Bias
Len Bias is widely considered as one of the greatest basketball players to not play at the professional level. Bias was a first team All-American forward at the University of Maryland and he was selected second overall by the Boston Celtics in the 1986 NBA Draft. Bias never played for the Celtics, though; two days after he was drafted, he tragically died from a cardiac arrhythmia induced by a cocaine overdose in a Maryland dorm room.
9. Drew "Doc" Gooden
Dwight "Doc" Gooden was a four-time All Star, three-time World Series Champion, the NL rookie of the year in 1984 and NL Cy Young winner in 1985. Gooden was one of the most feared and dominant pitchers of the 1980s, but battled through substance abuse problems all throughout his career.
Gooden tested positive for cocaine during spring training of 1987; he then entered a rehab center to avoid being suspended. During the 1994 season, Gooden tested positive for cocaine again and was suspended for 60 days. He had another positive test while serving the suspension and was subsequently suspended for the entire 1995 season. The day after receiving his second suspension, his wife, Monica, found him with a loaded gun to his head. Gooden has battled with substance abuse issues throughout retirement as well and appeared on the fifth season of VH1's Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew.
8. Andre Agassi
Andre Agassi won eight grand slam titles, a gold medal in the 1996 Olympics, was the oldest player to ever be ranked No. 1 in the world and ended 16 separate years inside the top 10; Agassi is undoubtedly one of the greatest tennis players of all time.
Agassi failed a drug test in 1997, but got out of it by saying that it was one of his assistants and that he accidentally ingested it. Agassi said that he had an assistant named Slim and Slim was a drug user who would often times spike his own drinks with meth and that Agassi's failed drug test was a result of him accidentally consuming one of Slim's beverages. Following Agassi's letter, the ATP dropped the case against him and Agassi resumed his career. Agassi would later admit though, after his career was over, that in the late 90s he was indeed using meth.
7. Alex Rodriguez
Alex Rodriguez has no history of abusing recreational drugs. He has an extensive history though of abusing performance-enhancing drugs. In 2009, Rodriguez admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs from 2001-2003 while he was with the Texas Rangers and he has adamantly claimed that this is the only period of his life in which he has used performance enhancers. Rodriguez has also been connected to the Biogenesis scandal though and is currently fighting a 211-game suspension that was handed down to him at the end of last season. Baseball believes it has evidence that shows that Rodriguez has routinely used performance enhancers and Rodriguez believes that baseball is simply out to make him the bad guy. There's a strong chance that Alex's use of performance enhancers will result in him never playing in the MLB again.
6. Darryl Henley
Darryl Henley is a former cornerback who was an All-American at UCLA and went on to play in 76 games for the Los Angeles Rams. Henley is currently serving a 41-year sentence for trafficking cocaine and for attempting to hire contract killers to kill the judge and a witness from his cocaine case.
5. Josh Hamilton
Josh Hamilton was suspended from baseball indefinitely in 2004 for violating the league's joint drug treatment and prevention program. Hamilton has been very open about his problems with drugs and alcohol, he admitted that he once pawned his wife's wedding ring for cocaine and blew through $100,000 on crack in six weeks. Hamilton has since come back to have a very successful baseball career and is currently an outfielder for the Los Angeles Angels.
4. Lawrence Taylor
Lawrence Taylor was once asked what he could do that no other outside linebacker could and his response was "drink." Taylor admitted to, and tested positive for, using cocaine in 1987 and was suspended from the NFL for 30 days in 1988 after failing a second drug test. He then laid off the drugs for five years, but as he got closer to retirement, the desire to pick the drugs back up began to increase, saying in his autobiography, "I saw coke as the only bright spot in my future." Taylor admitted in an interview with Mike Wallace on 60 Minutes that at his peak, he spent thousands of dollars a day on narcotics and that he routinely beat drug tests in the NFL by submitting the urine of his teammates.
3. Dock Ellis
Dock Ellis pitched a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres on June 12, 1970 … while under the influence of LSD. Ellis was visiting a friend in Los Angeles and thinking it was still Thursday, he took a hit of LSD on Friday at noon. A few hours after Ellis took the LSD, a friend's girlfriend reminded him that he was scheduled to pitch that night. Ellis hit a few batters, loaded the bases a few times, thought that the home plate umpire was Richard Nixon and at one point he thought he was pitching to Jimi Hendrix, who was swinging a guitar, but he never gave up a hit. Ellis reported that he never used LSD during the season again, but like many players of the 70s, he continued to use amphetamines.
2. Ricky Williams
Football fans are very familiar with the story of Ricky Williams. The talented running back was suspended multiple times throughout his career for failing drug tests and retired for a brief period of time in 2004 because he wanted to avoid the humiliation of his marijuana use being made public. Ricky eventually made it back into the NFL and rushed for over 1,000 yards for the Miami Dolphins in 2009.
1. Lance Armstrong
Lance Armstrong battled back from testicular cancer to eventually win seven consecutive Tour de France's. Throughout his cycling career, though, there were many individuals who accused Lance of being a "doper," but Lance always used his power and influence to deflect negative attention away from him and on to his accusers. Lance filed lawsuits that destroyed peoples careers in order to protect himself and publicly humiliated all of his detractors, but in 2012, the USADA concluded that Armstrong engaged in "the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen." Armstrong was then stripped of all seven of his Tour de France titles and has been given a lifetime ban from competing in all sports that follow the World Anti-Doping Agency code.