Jun. 23, 1969Jan. 5, 1987Oct. 3, 1988Jul. 8, 1991Apr. 14, 1997Jun. 3, 2002May 15, 2006


A couple of weeks ago Sports Illustrated opened its vault and we have already expressed our profound excitement. In the months to come we will be cataloguing their articles according to special categories as part of an SI Vault Series. Given the current climate on the subject, performance enhancing drugs (PEDS) seemed like a wonderful place to start. As accountability is being requested from players to managers to owners, there is one contingent that has answered to no one: The MEDIA. It is important for the public to know the same question asked of everyone else: "what did they know"? Given SI’s historical reputation America’s #1 magazine, it goes without saying that if Sports Illustrated printed it, then the rest of the sports media knew about it. …This post is not complete and will act as a living document to be updated with other related SI articles that have been missed. Its purpose is to make it easier for sports fans, readers, critics, bloggers, researchers, and writers to find SI’s central articles in one place. Should you have any suggestions and additions to make this catalogue stronger, your input is welcomed.


Part 1 -SI’s Coverage 1969-1991: A: "The Awakening"; B. Early Discoveries; C. "Football Gets Exposed"

To our knowledge Bil Gilbert’s extensive three part series in 1969 is SI’s first substantial foray into the subject of PEDS with it’s second part on baseball a must-read for historical context. The next 15 years marked many steroid/PED discoveries in sports like Olympics track & field, cycling, and body-building, but wouldn’t receive major attention or cover treatement (see Brian Bosworth) until the NCAA and NFL football became exposed in the latter 1980s. In the 1998, the Olympics took center stage as Ben Johnson was "busted" on SI’s cover. One year later SI printed another article that contained allegations against Carl Lewis and Florence Griffith-Joyner but few heard of the story. In 1991, former NFL star Lyle Alzado personally blamed his impending death on steroid abuse, but doctors could not corroborate such a claim. However, this SI cover story set a tone of "steroids scare" that would make it almost impossible to have reasonable discussions on the health risks of Steroids/PEDs for another 20 years.


    Mar 12, 2007 | Volume 106, Issue 1



Part 1: PROBLEMS IN A TURNED ON WORLD; June 23, 1969, Bil Gilbert; The pill, capsule, vial and needle have become fixtures of the locker room in the hope of improving performances. This trend—one that poses a major threat to U.S. sport even though the Establishment either ignores or hushes up the issue.

Part 2: SOMETHING EXTRA ON THE BALL; June 30, 1969, Bil Gilbert; Be it pick-me-ups or let-me-downs, build-me-ups or lie-me-downs, they can all be found in medicine’s little black bag for sportsmen.

Part 3: HIGH TIME TO MAKE SOME RULES; July 7, 1969 | Bil Gilbert; "If the pleasures of competition and joys of victory are worth keeping, sport must realize that it is HIGH TIME TO MAKE SOME RULES


1970 – 1985: "EARLY DISCOVERIES" 
(and no SI Covers)


 Mar 12, 2007 | Volume 106, Issue 1Mar 12, 2007 | Volume 106, Issue 1



– A PIPELINE FULL OF DRUGS; January 21, 1985 | Bill Brubaker steroids flowed from Nashville to coaches and athletes at Clemson University

– GETTING PHYSICAL AND CHEMICAL;: May 13, 1985 | William Oscar Johnson; Tampa Bay Bucs’ Steve Courson comes out of steroid closet.

STEROIDS: A Problem Of Huge Dimensions; May 13, 1985; Tampa Bay Bucs Steve Courson says that 75% of the linemen in NFL are on steroids.; 

STEROIDS ON CAMPUS: Bosworth Faces the Music January 5, 1987, Craig Neff, Brian Bosworth was a conspicuous casualty of the NCAA’s steroid crackdown

THE NIGHTMARE OF STEROIDS, October 24, 1988, Tommy Chaikin, South Carolina Lineman Used PEDs For Three Years. They Drove Him To Violence, And Nearly To Suicide

THE NFL AND STEROIDS; May 22, 1989 | Edited by Craig Neff; Atlanta Falcon guard Bill Fralic told a Senate Judiciary Committee about prevalence of anabolic steroids in NFL 


 Mar 12, 2007 | Volume 106, Issue 1Mar 12, 2007 | Volume 106, Issue 1


1988 – 1989: "TRACK’S BIG NAMES"


  • THE LOSER (Ben Johnson):, October 3, 1988, Oscar William Johnson: In late May, Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson traveled to the Caribbean island of St. Kitts to be treated by his doctor, Jamie Astaphan. Astaphan administered a variety of therapies during the next 10 days.  

  • THE WINNER: DRUGS AND TRACK; October 2, 1989 | Edited by Craig Neff:  Former U.S. 400-meter standout Darrell Robinson linked Olympic gold medalists Carl Lewis and Florence Griffith Joyner and other American athletes and coaches to a variety of such substances. Lewis and Griffith-Joyner vehemently denied the allegations. 

    More to come on "track"

Part 2 -SI’s Coverage 1991-Present: 

A: "Bigger than one Person"; B. "The Assassination"; C. "Beyond Barry" 


In the 1990′s, the subject turned to baseball, but SI and other media fell asleep at the wheel. While Paul-Bunyan armed Mark McGwire graced the SI cover six times in 1998 alone (not for Steroids), the Sporting News "Player of the Decade" (Barry Bonds) would only land on the cover twice during the entire 1990′s, and only once more during his historic stretch to start the new century. By 2004, SI would reach its journalistic low point in steroids coverage by making Bonds the exclusive face of a league-wide and sports-wide problem. SI’s longstanding personal dislike for Bonds, well-planned collaboration with The Game of Shadows authors in 2004, and lead writer Tom Verducci’s documented bias against Bonds all did a great disservice not only to Bonds, but to the national dialogue. But 2007 brought Major League Baseball "HGH Summer" starring Rick Ankiel and "The Mitchell Report" starring Roger Clemens, but no SI covers. It wasn’t until outside entities (MLB, Congress, Mitchell) beyond SI exposed the issue beyond Bonds that forced SI and other media into a broader and more reasonable PED discussion — one that should have taken place years earlier. In March 2008, SI put out one of its best article series in years ("Steroid Nation: Stop Blaming Sports").


 Mar 12, 2007 | Volume 106, Issue 1Mar 12, 2007 | Volume 106, Issue 1


 1997 -2003: "BIGGER THAN ONE PERSON" 

OVER THE EDGE: April 14, 1997, Michael Bamberger, "Athletes rely more than ever on PEDs." 

UNDER SUSPICION: April 14, 1997, Michael Bamberger, Irish Swimmer Michelle Smith Should Be a Big Star

TOTALLY JUICED, June 03, 2002 | Tom Verducci; With the use of steroids and other performance enhancers rampant, according to a former MVP and other sources, baseball players and their reliance on drugs have grown to alarming proportions .

— GETTING AMPED, June 03, 2002 | Tom Verducci; Popping amphetamines or other stimulants is part of many players’ pregame routine



Mar 12, 2007 | Volume 106, Issue 1Mar 12, 2007 | Volume 106, Issue 1Mar 12, 2007 | Volume 106, Issue 1

2004- Current: "THE LONE GUNMAN ERA"


SO WHAT CAN YOU DO, BUD?, March 15, 2004 | Tom Verducci;  

–  IS BASEBALL IN THE ASTERISK ERA? March 15, 2004 | Tom Verducci; 


WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU STOP?, March 15, 2004 | Tom Verducci; Dr. Gary Wadler answers SI’s questions on steroids.

CAN THE GOVERNMENT CLEAN UP THE GAME?, March 15, 2004 | Jeff Greenfield;

The Truth About Barry Bonds and Steroids, March 13, 2006 | Mark Fainaru-Wada; 

THE CONSEQUENCES, March 13, 2006 | Tom Verducci;

HARD NUMBER , May 15, 2006 | Tom Verducci; Barry Bonds passes the Babe


 Post-Steroids Era Coverage

WHEN BIGGER GETS SMALLER, SMALL GETS BIG, May 30, 2005 | TOM VERDUCCI: With steroid testing in place, power hitting is already in decline. But it’s a rising generation of good young pitchers that may be driving baseball into an era in which the little things matter again

 – PURE HITTERS; April 03, 2006 | TOM VERDUCCI; 

  2007- Current: "BEYOND BARRY"


Below are many links to SI’s Mitchell Report coverage as well as SI’s most recent steroid coverage called: Steroid Nation: Stop Blaming Sports (see 2nd column) . The first excellent piece by Jack McCallum represents the macro nature of what steroid use by athletes represent.


Mitchell Report
The Report
From SI
Michael McCann: Next step for players
SI Flashback: Rocket Science | 300 Wins
SI Flashback: Confessions of an MVP
From the Wires

Steroids In America
Part I: The Present
Jack McCallum: The Real Dope
David Epstein: The ABC’s of HGH
Jack McCallum: Youth Movement
Part II: The Past
Wertheim/Epstein: The Godfather
Part III: The Future
David Epstein: Gene-Doping Jocks
Caitlin Moscatello: Stem cells | VIDEO
Additional Coverage