Today marks the twentieth anniversary of Ben Johnson’s 1988 Olympic steroid scandal.
Steroids have changed a lot of things in our lives.
The existence of steroids makes us question our sports heroes.
The prevalence of steroids makes us question just about everyone we know who carries an unusual amount of muscle.
Steroids also had a profound effect on how we think of ‘nutrition’.
Because steroids are considered cheating in almost every sport, athletes who were abusing steroids had to come up with excuses to why they were able to put on 30 pounds of muscle over an off-season.
The answer was easy “nutrition” or more appropriately “better nutrition” – the idea that eating ‘better’ could create massive changes in how the body looks.
From Bodybuilding to Baseball, Wrestling to Football, it seemed like a lot of professional athletes were suddenly eating more protein, cutting back on the sweets and instantly gaining unprecedented amounts of muscle.
It is my personal opinion that the “miracle effect” that people beleive foods have on our body was born out of a cover up of steroid abuse. And it is because of this that we greatly overestimate the effect that food can have on a human bodies ability to build muscle.
It is also why so many of us are disappointed when after months of eating 400 grams of protein a day combined with every supplement imaginable, we don’t get the same results.
So from our sports heroes to the billion dollar sports supplement business, to the equally large industry of nutrition consulting, the events of 1988 changed the world of sports nutrition dramatically.