Just a few days ago, Russian tennis star and stunningly beautiful athlete Maria Sharapova failed a drug test at the Australian Open. This was a huge surprise, given her squeaky-clean reputation as an honest and upstanding member of the tennis community. To be fair, all the specifics of her story have yet to be completely ironed out and it has yet to be determined whether she will continue to be a beloved athlete or whether her reputation will be mercilessly dragged through the mud by the anti-doping community.
In her defense, Sharapova has indicated that she took the drug under the supervision of her doctor, and that she had no idea that it had been banned until after the test results came back. This is plausible, because it was only banned on January 1st, 2016. This is a lesson, kids, don't skim emails.
The list of athletes whose careers are negatively impacted by PED use seems to grow almost by the day. From marijuana to full-on anabolic steroids, from mixed martial arts to rowing, everyone is getting tested, and anyone caught is generally given a stiff penalty. While some may refer to women as the "fairer sex," female athletes are occasionally dishonest like their male counterparts and plenty of them have been caught for PED use over the years.
Here are thirteen of the hottest female athletes who have been caught in doping scandals.
13 Olga Kaniskina
Our list starts off with now-retired Russian race-walker Olga Kaniskina. She holds a gold medal and a silver medal from both the European Championships and the Olympic games in addition to a single gold from the 2007 World Championship.
She was not found to have used any specific PEDs but received a three year ban a few years ago for significant abnormalities in her biological passport. For those who are not familiar, that is a record kept of every drug test taken by an athlete. If authorities detect anomalies in one of these, they generally slap a penalty on the athlete even if they can't exactly pinpoint the substance.
12 Martina Hingis
Apart from being a beautiful and talented competitor, Martina Hingis may well be the Brett Favre of tennis. She's retired twice and but come out of retirement both times. She never sent racy pictures to a reporter, so that part of the comparison doesn't really hold up, but the two do share the fact that both have endured drug related scandals. Favre got addicted to painkillers, did rehab, and so forth, and back in late 2007, Hingis tested positive for a metabolite of cocaine. It was a tiny amount, but the International Tennis Federation suspended her for two years in early 2008.
11 Luiza Galiulina
Uzbek gymnast Luiza Galiulina is, like many gymnasts, on the "cute" end of the hot scale. At 4'11" and weighing next to nothing (a requirement for that sport), she appeared at two Summer Olympics and a single Asian Games, at which she took home a bronze medal. At the London Olympics, back in 2012, a drug test indicated that she had taken furosemide; a banned substance. This substance is widely recognized as important in treating certain conditions such as high blood pressure, but it is banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency because it can be used to mask the presence of other PEDs.
10 Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle
When I first head of the term "biathlete," I thought it referred to a competitor who would shack up with people from either male or female gender. But here we are today, a week later and now I know it refers to a person in an event that involves cross-country skiing and accurate shooting. But I digress...
Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle was a cross country skier and biathlete who competed in the 2002, 2006, and 2010 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Turin, and Vancouver. In those three years, she earned two gold medals and three silver. In Sochi two years ago, however, she tested positive for methylhexanamine, a stimulant that is generally used as a dietary supplement, but is banned.
9 Kristina Antoniychuk
The inspiration for this article was the recent Maria Sharapova drama, but we had to include at least one more tennis player. The biggest difference between Sharapova and our number seven is that our number seven has always been a complete no-name as a tennis player, whereas Sharapova is one of the greatest of the last decade.
Kristina Antoniychuk is a Ukrainian beauty whose current career status is difficult to determine. She played up until 2010, when she was caught with a banned diuretic in her system. She was suspended just fourteen months and seemingly never bothered to return to competition. She mostly played in tournaments in Russia and Ukraine prior to her doping offense.
8 Kelli White
Californian sprinter Kelli White was a double gold medal winner at the 2003 World Championships in Paris, France. Unfortunately she was implicated in the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Op (BALCO) Scandal, which is most famous for repercussions in the world of Major League Baseball. After a rough year of competition in 2002, White started using various PEDs provided by the lab and was caught in 2004, nullifying her previously won medals.
7 Elena Berezhnaya
For those of you who follow figure skating like I do (glancing at the TV to see the fit women, and then switching to something else) this name will be virtually unknown. Elena Berezhnaya and her partner Anton Sikharulidze were the Russian pair who ended up sharing the gold medal with Canadian skaters Jamie Sale and David Pelletier back in 2002.
A couple of years before that, she was briefly in the news for having failed a drug test. For the most part it was harmless and she had accepted bronchitis medication that contained a banned substance while training in New Jersey.
6 Anna Alminova
As we break into the top four, we get the pleasure of meeting a stunning Russian blonde, Anna Alminova. Now retired, she was a runner who specialized on the 800 meter and 1500 meter events. She received two penalties for doping throughout her career. The first was a three month ban in 2010 for pseudoephedrine that she took for a cold, and the second was a two year ban in 2011, due to abnormalities in her biological passport.
5 Crystal Cox
Her name sounds more like a set of marital aids for a rich woman than a real name, but that's beside the point. She was a contestant on a season of Survivor but before that she won a gold medal in the 4X400 meter relay at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece.
It was not until sometime after her win that anyone found out she had used steroids. This was discovered in 2010 and her medal was stripped in 2012. She was issued a three year ban and her team has been allowed to keep their medals.
4 Hope Solo
The goalkeeper of the United States women's soccer team is no stranger to media controversy. She and now-husband, retired tight end Jerramy Stevens, were involved in a domestic dispute back in 2012 and in 2014 she was arrested for allegedly assaulting her half-sister and nephew. The charges were dropped.
In 2012, before the Olympics, she was found with canrenone; a banned substance, in her system. She said it was the result of a medication prescribed by her doctor for period-related complications. She was forgiven and slapped with a warning.
3 Carina Damm
Our number three is Brazilian mixed martial artist Carina Damm. She has been fighting professionally for about twelve years now and holds a record (according to Sherdog) of 22-12. The majority of her earlier fights took place in Brazil, but in the past five years she has split time between fighting there and in the United States. Back in 2008, however, after an armbar submission win at Fatal Femmes Fighting 4: Call of the Wild in Los Angeles, she tested positive for Nandrolone, an anabolic steroid. She was suspended for a year and fined $2,500. In 2013, she was suspended again after a loss to Jessica Eye, when she submitted a urine sample that was not urine at all. The doctor's first tip was that whatever was in the cup was in fact cold.
2 Maria Sharapova
She may be the inspiration for the writing of this article, but that doesn't mean she shouldn't have her own entry on the list. Sharapova's ongoing drug scandal seems to be evolving every day, with opinions ranging from "she just made a mistake" to "she's a cheater and has always been a cheater."
Fellow tennis player Kristina Mladenovic recently came out and announced that many other professionals consider Sharapova to be a dishonest player whose success has been partially due to her "playing with the rules." On top of this, Mladenovic has indicated that Sharapova in not well-liked on tour, calling her dishonest and rude. Whatever the outcome of this failed drug test and suspension, it seems that a brilliant tennis career may ultimately be tainted moving forward.
1 Andreea Raducan
Standing just 4'11, Romanian gymnast Andreea Raducan is a "fun-sized" babe. She won a gold medal and a silver at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, along with several World Championship medals in 1999 and 2001. She was just 16 when she competed in those Olympic games. Just a few days after the medals were handed out, she tested positive for pseudoephedrine, and was disqualified. It turned out that her team doctor had given her cough medicine before competing and despite no real wrongdoing on her part, her medal was taken away.
She has become a television personality in Romania after retiring from competition in 2002.