Juiced Jocks: 4 All-Star Doper Pro Athletes (and One Huge Drunk)
Parents put kids in sports to keep them off drugs. Oh, well.
Professional athletes are superhuman. They have otherworldly physical talents to that allow them to do things that we mere mortals can only do in daydreams; such as clocking in stellar sports performances while completely wasted.
Let’s look at a handful of athletes who have achieved great sports accomplishments while on drugs. Most of them reached the heights despite the drugs; one was boosted up there by the dope.
DOCK ELLIS: Baseball’s Fantastic Tripper
No No: A Dockumentary is a film that recounts the improbable events of June 12, 1970, when Pittsburgh Pirates hurler Dock Ellis threw a 2-0, eight-walk no-hitter against the San Diego Padres. In the 136-year history of baseball, 276 no-hitters have been achieved (so far). What makes Dock’s feat really historic? The Pirate was tripping on LSD when he took the mound.
In Ellis’s words: “The ball was small sometimes; the ball was large sometimes; sometimes I saw the catcher; sometimes I didn't. Sometimes, I tried to stare the hitter down and throw while I was looking at him.”
Ellis is proof that when outlandish thoughts are running through your head, and reality has turned into a guessing game, you can still do anything, even throw a no-hitter: “I started having a crazy idea in the fourth inning that Richard Nixon was the home plate umpire, and once I thought I was pitching a baseball to Jimi Hendrix, who to me was holding a guitar and swinging it over the plate.”
A Super Bowl appearance is validation that a football team and its players are at the top of their game. Nothing beats an appearance but a win. In 1979, when the Dallas Cowboys almost won Super Bowl XIII, Thomas ''Hollywood" Henderson was on the sidelines snorting cocaine mixed with water through an inhaler. Henderson is considered one of the best linebackers of all time. (His style of play had a lot to do with how the Cowboy’s had won the previous year’s Super Bowl.) The reflective baller relives his day as a coked-up Super Bowl also-ran in his autobiography, Out of Control. The flashy player said he used drugs while playing for four different NFL teams—with the highest stakes being on the line during that ’79 Super Bowl loss.
DIEGO MARADONA: Soccer’s Coca Cowboy
Diego Maradona Is considered one of the all-time soccer (football) greats. The Argentine player, infamous for his 1986 World Cup Hand of God goal, was also a cocaine aficionado. Maradona revealed in 2014 that he’d been addicted to cocaine from the mid-’80s to 2004—the greatest years of his play.
Maradona lead Argentina to the finals of the World Cup in 1990, but by the time of the 1994 World Cup, his drug-crazed style of play caught the attention of league officials. Though at the top of his game, he failed to hide ephedrine, a type of amphetamine, in his blood system, and he was expelled from the tournament.
Maradona claimed he did the drugs before the match with Australia with full knowledge of the head of the Argentina Football Association: "What happened is that to play against Australia, we were given a speedy coffee. They put something in the coffee, and that's why we ran more."
Whether that coffee was irregular or decaf, Maradona’s football (soccer) feats on cocaine are the most improbably and amazing achievements of soccer (football) history.
ANDRE THE GIANT: Wrestling’s Biggest Boozer
Apparently, this early superstar of pro wrestling had a big posse and a ravenous appetite for boozing it up before matches. If hyperbole is to be believed, it wasn’t uncommon for Mr. The Giant to down 100 beers in a night; after all he was a very, very, very big man. As the legend goes, he once wrestled in Madison Square Garden after chugging 16 bottles of wine. Since he was “the face” and not “the heel,” Andre stumbled away the victor. Maybe because of his size, Andre didn’t appear to suffer adverse effects of drinking. He just looked like a gigantic lush with a huge happy-drunk face.
LANCE ARMSTRONG: Cheat on Wheels
What would a post about athletes who have accomplished amazing things while on drugs be without Lance Armstrong? The cyclist won the Tour de France a whopping seven times. For years, Armstrong claimed to have been clean for each of those wins. Eventually the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) caught up with the crafty cyclist’s elusive blood samples. The USADA report details eyewitness accounts of Armstrong using performance-enhancing drugs as well as coercing teammates to partake. The sullied hero was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned from cycling for life.
Here’s the moral of the Lance Armstrong story: If he’d done all that furious pedaling on acid, he’d still be a hero.