Anti-doping report offers look inside sports cheating

Close-up of a bodybuilder, also seen reflected from behind.
A report by the World Anti-Doping Agency indicated that bodybuilding generated more violations than any other sport.
(Atta Kenare / AFP via Getty Images)

A day after the World Anti-Doping Agency published its latest figures for cheating in sports, it’s worth taking a glance inside the numbers.

Doping violations totaled 1,804 in 2017, the most recent year for which statistics were available. That represents a 13% increase over the previous year but also a decrease from 2013 as cases continue to fluctuate.

Italy led all nations with 171 violations. France ranked second with 128; the United States, third with 103 and Russia, fifth with 82.

Russian officials confirmed Thursday that they will appeal a four-year ban handed down by anti-doping authorities.

Dec. 19, 2019

Of all sports, bodybuilding generated the most violations with 266. Track and field wasn’t too far behind with 242, cycling was third with 218 and weightlifting was fourth with 123.

The numbers date back to those initiated in 2017 because doping cases can take months or longer to be adjudicated, with athletes having the right to appeal.


More than 300 of the 2017 cases did not derive from the standard process of testing, but from investigations such as WADA’s continuing scrutiny into the Russian doping scandal.

“While in- and out-of-competition testing remains critical to detect doping, events have recently shown that investigative work is becoming even more important as we look to protect clean athletes’ rights worldwide,” said Olivier Niggli, the director general of WADA.

The agency has identified a growing need to boost its investigative resources.