“Faster, Stronger, Manlier?:
An Examination of Women and Doping in Sport”
Charlene Weaving & Sarah Teetzel
Kinesiology Graduate Department
The Physical Body Dichotomy
If women athletes to do not conform to this
ideal, the media ostracizes them and labels
them as unfeminine and manly. In order to
help illustrate this claim refer to the figure 3.
The upshot of examining this dichotomy is to
help demonstrate the notion that there is much
more to the issue of women doping than health
factors and perversion of sport arguments.
counterparts, seem to face more social
stigmatizations when it comes to doping
Future Research
Performance Enhancing Drugs:
A Closer Look
From the diet of dried figs used by ancient
Olympic competitors to the stimulants used by
Ancient Egyptians and Roman gladiators, doping in
sport took place long before the International Olympic
Committee (IOC) identified it as a worrisome issue in
the 1960s. Since then, the use of drugs and other
practices banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency
has become an enormous ethical issue in sport.
Several hundred drugs enhance strength, endurance,
power, and muscle control and are consequently
banned in sport. The majority of these substances fall
under the categories of stimulants, narcotics,
anabolic agents, diuretics, and peptide hormones.
Determining the prevalence of drug use in sport is
extremely difficult due to the lengths guilty athletes
will take to mask their use of banned substances.
IOC accredited drug testing laboratories typically find
1-2% of all samples they test to show positive doping
results. However, the actually percentage of athletes
be . much higher. This is because athletes that dope
(and their pharmacological suppliers) are often one
step ahead of the detection agencies and use drugs
that are currently undetectable.
Male and female athletes face many risks if they
choose to use chemical means to help shave
seconds off their personal best times, run faster, jump
higher, fight harder, and in
Figure 3: Media representation
of elite women weightlifters
Figure 1: Irish swimmer Michelle
Figure 2: Members of the
national swimming
Figure 4: A bodybuilder in
a submissive pose
Bodybuilding provides an interesting
example of this dichotomy because women
bodybuilders must possess a significant degree
of muscularity yet maintain an image of
femininity. Philosopher Ken Saltman argues
bodybuilding reinforces popular perceptions of
“real men” and “real women” (1998: 48). Women
bodybuilders require incredible amounts of
muscle mass to be successful, yet to compete at
the highest level they must also project a
feminine look. The pornography magazine
Playboy has published a special issue entitled
“Playboy’s Hard Bodies,” where “buff beauties”
were photographed in submissive poses as sexy
soft women who sport stiletto heels and bikinis (a
stereotypical feminine ideal look) (50-51). See
figure 4. It seems that female bodybuilders can
be muscular and achieve a certain level of
“rippleness” yet they must adopt appropriate
gender norms. One could argue that the only
way female bodybuilders can gain acceptance is
to mimic stereotypical pornography icons
(makeup, large hair, bikinis, high heels and
ultimately be captured as submissive and
Saltman, Ken. (1998) “Men with Breasts.”
Journal of
Philosophy of sport. XXV, pp.
World Anti-Doping Agency. (2003) World AntiDoping Code. Montreal: World AntiDoping Agency.
Young, Iris Marion. (1988) “The Exclusion of
Women from Sport: Conceptual and
Dimensions.” In Philosophic
Inquiry in Sport.
Edited by William J.
Morgan and Klaus V. Meier. Champaign,
Illinois: Human Kinetics Publishers,

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