Doping: How Not To Get Caught


Guest Commentary by Casey Barrett

French study reveals: Take a little, take it at night, never fail a test… See your results soar.

The next time you hear someone proclaim innocence by pointing to all the drug tests they have passed, try not to laugh. If a cheater is versed in the latest in the dark art of doping then there’s little chance of ever testing positive.

In a study publicized by the television station France 2, the massive benefits of ‘micro-dosing’ were laid bare. In a medical trial, eight athletes were injected with EPO, human growth hormones, corticosteroids, and other drugs – all in tiny doses. While the micro doses left no trace in drug tests, their benefits certainly showed up in performance. One of the runners reported an astonishing drop of 31 seconds in the 3,000 meters – in under a month of testing and clean results.

It appears it’s not just in the dosage, it’s also when you take these banned substances. Take them at night, before bed, and by the time you wake for morning workout they’ll be out of your system. Officially, the World Anti-Doping Agency can test you in the middle of the night, but they don’t. In fact, it requires ‘specific justification’ – ie, they’ll tip you off before they do.

Now, in case you’re reading this and you possess more ambition than integrity, don’t go rushing out just yet to your local GNC and load up with banned over-the-counter concoctions. The study stressed that micro-dosing is not for amateurs. It requires a level of medical expertise, or at least a working knowledge in human performance. In short, you need a doping pro in your corner.

Despite this apparent free pass around drug tests, we continue to hear about athletes testing positive all the time. Particularly in certain countries, like say, Russia… So, who tests positive these days? Those who do tend to fall into two camps: the inadvertently stupid and the dirty stupid.

There are plenty in the prior camp. Those who fail to carefully read the ingredients on a supplement, who may trust a physician they shouldn’t, who take a stimulant while cramming for a midterm. There are many ways that otherwise innocent athletes inadvertently fail drug tests. Despite the inherent stupidity, I have a good deal of empathy for them. I’ve been taking asthma medication since I was 8-years-old and I still remember the panic I felt during tests, making sure my inhalers were documented by my doctor. It’s a terrible terror to fear testing positive when you are clean. It’s up there with being falsely accused of sex crimes. To be lumped in with those you condemn, accused of sins that you’d sooner die than commit? It’s a horror to consider. It’s a stain that can never be scrubbed away, no matter how innocent you may be.

Those poor souls make up a portion of positive drug tests, and it’s brutal.

In the other camp of stupid are those who are truly cheating – and are not very good at it. They’re akin to dim getaway drivers who also get life when their partners kill someone, or to junkies who steal to feed a habit. They may be criminals, but they’re in the shallow end of the criminal pool. They make up most of our prisons – and also most of the failed drug tests out there.

For the rest who choose to dope and do it well, the only way they’re getting caught is circumstantial. No one dopes in a vacuum. The drugs have to come from somewhere. They must be administered by someone. There is always a trail, no matter how careful you may be. That’s the way the true cheaters, the champion cheaters, are eventually caught. Sometimes it takes years, after a career has concluded, but few escape for good.

But some do. Maybe you’re tempted? Maybe you found this story while Googling with less than noble motives. If so, maybe micro-dosing is for you. Go ahead and take those banned substances in miniature doses. It will cost you a few bucks, and a bit of medical guidance, but if you’re smart about it you probably won’t get caught. At least not by a drug test.

Oh, here’s one more cost: the price of your soul and dignity as an athlete.

The above commentary is the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.

Note: Swimming World has consistently asked FINA to find better ways to test athletes to ensure a clean sport. This article simply points out how FINA test results are not reliable.


  1. Sean Banerjee

    I’m confused as to why Swimming World thought it was remotely appropriate to post an article with instructions on micro-doping. It’d be like D.A.R.E. told you how to get away with shooting up heroin.

    • Swimming World

      Swimming World has consistently asked FINA to find better ways to test athletes to ensure a clean sport. This article simply points out how FINA test results are not reliable.

      • avatar
        Jocelyn McCann

        Then I beleive the article shoud have been written another way. I certainly didn’t get the feeling that this article was trying to point out the realiability of FINA test resluts.

    • Sean Banerjee

      And a historic account of how they have tested and refined testing over the decades wouldn’t have sufficed with an educated narrative? This was in poor taste.

  2. avatar

    FINA seems to ignore those requests most of the time. It’s as if they are invested in keeping the status quo, which is: Enough doping to ensure new records, publicity, and $ coming into the sport, and to them, but not enough to cause a scandal large enough to disrail that gravy train.

  3. avatar

    I am very disappointed that this was posted. I understand SWM does not believe in doping and wants to encourage better and more reliable tests but this article sends a true mixed message to the especially young athletes. I am very disappointed.

    • avatar

      Folks…This study has been on the “NET” for a month or so and is just now getting attention. It has also been posted on other swimming this study is not new news. For the people who cheat..they do not need this article to tell them how…they already have that figured out.

      The thing I find interesting is that when folks get caught…the crazy excuses they come up with and also the suspected ones always use the Lance defense..well I have never tested positive…we know how that turned out when the most tested athlete in the world finally admitted he was using for years and years. The only way to even have a chance at cleaning up all sports is …you get caught and you are banned for life…no 3 month or 18 month suspensions that FINA hands out so folks can still compete in the Olympics.

  4. Bo Chamberlain

    I really cannot believe you all posted this at all,regardless of your motives. This is just a how-to. I doubt very many high school swimmers who read this will be very concerned about FINA but may take a lot of this to heart prior to their first couple years in college.
    This post is completely inappropriate and should be taken down.

    • avatar

      Bo…you are very naive! lets all play ostrich and put our heads in the sand…doping is in all sports and yes it is in swimming…whether we want to believe or not it is there. If HS kids want to cheat all they have to do is google it…these kids are smarter than me with technology and how to research topics on the net..and yes I have 2 kids and 2 grandkids and amazing to me how much they know that I do not just by surfing the net…Also I applaud SWM for having the guts to talk about these topics…..If we do not talk about them how can we come up with solutions to the problems facing swimming?

    • Swimming World

      The article clearly states, “The study stressed that micro-dosing is not for amateurs. It requires a level of medical expertise, or at least a working knowledge in human performance. In short, you need a doping pro in your corner. “. These issues need to get out in front of the entire community to motivate FINA to take action.

  5. avatar
    Bill V.

    Another very poorly advised article.

  6. David O

    Good post. Hiding the truth will never prevent people who lack integrity from seeking an unfair advantage. Those who have integrity just wont do it. At least those with integrity are now informed of what they’re up against.

  7. avatar

    why do you keep letting this moron write articles for your site… last time didn’t go over well did it?

  8. Keith Reichert

    David, I agree. Drug cheats need to be pulled out into the daylight and exposed. This article makes it obvious to people that cheating can occur easily under current rules and with current technology. However, it doesn’t give phone numbers to dirty doctors or coaches.

    It’s not a how to, it’s an eye opener. It’s a wake up call to those who care about sport and integrity in sport.

  9. Jeannie Woodrich

    Awful article. It certainly does NOT come across as trying to out the cheaters. It comes off as here’s how you do it but when someone asks we’ll say we’re outing cheaters. I won’t be steering my boys to your page anymore.

  10. avatar
    John Dussliere

    I think when things like this are written and well publicized the cockroaches tend to run from the light rather than the newbes using it as a “how to”. Casey is to be commended for showing a pair and getting this out there. When we inspire agencies to test when cheaters can best be caught (late at night, on weekends, etc.) it give cheaters one less opportunity to cheat. We brag that swimmers are intelligent, we know that swimmers come from better financial means than most athletes. Well guess what? These two advantages also contribute to cheating at a higher level. They have a greater advantage to remain ahead of the tests. We must do everything to help the tests pass the cheats. But we better be prepared to handle the widespread use in our sport when this happens. Keep writing Casey!! And keep publishing SW!!

  11. Phil Kruk

    How about DON’T DO IT ??

  12. Leone Wood

    Or just don’t do it, then nothing to be positive!

  13. Jack Hardy

    Vijay Ramburuth they’re now handing out advice on how to not get caught… Haven’t read the article yet so I really hope this is click-bait.

    • Vijay Ramburuth

      WT….actual….F!!!! I’ll check it out now.

    • Jack Hardy

      Looks like it’s half and half, it will definitely spark some interest into it all.

    • Vijay Ramburuth

      Just read the whole article. Very weird that Swimming World would even associate themselves with this kind of article. Micro Dosing is BS though. It’s the masking agents used by pros that allow far too many people to get away with doping. I’m pretty sure a high percentage of top level swimmers are doping. The sheer volume of their training is unnatural! ?

  14. Nina Green

    Cheats will always get caught !

  15. Nina Green

    Cheats will always get caught !

    • avatar

      You are a bit naïve.

  16. Stuart Coleman

    It has always puzzled me. people use drugs in sport with the end-game being, get rich. but when they are old and sitting on the front porch with a grandchild talking about what they won, how can they look at their own flesh and blood and continue to lie. shallow weak people use drugs to win because deep down even they know they are really losers.

  17. Jorge Valero


  18. Jorge Valero


  19. avatar

    Well, I do not really know what to think about this writing… If this is all true, then in my humble opinion the athletes of developed, rich countries probably use way more doping, as it is easier to buy the dope there and the medical expertise and working knowledge in human performance it requires is easily available in those countries. I guess athletes need to be tested by their medical staff regularly, just to make sure their doping does not show in their blood, so in my oppinion doping is quite easy for e.g. US, Australian and Western European swimmers or the ones whose coaches are from those countries to use forbidden substances. They are also the ones who hold most of the records.
    The bad thing is that you can not separate talent from cheating, so one aasumes that very exceptional swimmers, like Phelps must have cheated to get such results. What about testing children? How do you test growth hormone doping is developing children? Can cheating start from that age, even if drugs are not used when one is developed already? Also, there are way more “asmatic swimmers” nowadays, than in the past, especially among kids. Maybe blood samples of all olympic medalists should be kept longer than 10 years, and tested in 20-30 yrs when better detection techniques are available. And medals should be taken away from people, even 20-30 later….
    By the way, in soccer doping is almost not checked, otherwise the profs would be all banned from the sport. People say that cycling is clean too, but all old dope users are advisors or trainers, and special guests of the Tour the France!

  20. Sean Pearson

    Stephen A. Gomez Perez

  21. Kara Lennon

    I am disgusted. By this post

    • avatar

      Why? It looks like in the saying: crying out “the Thief” louder then aanybody uasualy tare the thief himself.” Are you..
      I was a pro for over 20 years – it is simly true what is written here.

    • avatar

      Why? It looks like in the saying: crying out “the Thief” louder then aanybody uasualy are the thief himself.” Are you..
      I was a pro for over 20 years – it is simly true what is written here.