Diana Taurasi: Are Women Athletes Doping Like Men?

Lindsay Mannering

woman musclesFemale basketball star Diana Taurasi tested positive for the performance enhancing drug modafinil. The former UConn phenom and guard for the WNBA team Phoenix Mercury got her lab results while playing off-season ball abroad in Turkey.

Taurasi, arguably one of the world's best female basketball players, is blaming the Turkish lab for her positive results. She claims she's never heard of the drug, nor come in contact with it. The results shocked her.

I had never heard of it and couldn't pronounce it. I had to Google it to find out the side effects. I never have come in contact with it. ... I went from being really angry to wondering, "Why me?" I won't let it bring me down.

The 28-year-old isn't the first female athlete to be accused of doping. As women become more famous and more recognized in sports, are we going to see a surge in performance-enhancing drug accusations?

Possibly. Track and field athletes Marion Jone and Kelli White fell from grace when they admitted to using performance-enhancers and, in Jones' case, was stripped of Olympic medals.

With the popularity of female professional sports teams and their star power on the rise, why haven't female doping accusations risen at an equal pace?

Anthony Butch, director of the Olympic Analytical Laboratory at UCLA, explains:

From the point of view of male vs. female, one of the big compounds that's abused is anabolic steroids. And I think the reason males test positive more often is that females aren't taking it as much because it's more apparent. They start developing male features. First, that would be easier to detect by a coach or trainer, and second, they're still female and they want to look female.

As doping evidence becomes more sophisticated and harder to detect, Butch's theory may become outdated. And as endorsement deals, salaries, and recognition become more a part of the female sports arena, so will doping.

Taurasi is adamantly denying the claim that she used drugs, and says the only thing she's ever been accused of taking is too many jump shots.

Do you think female athlete doping accusations will rise?

Photo via RightIndex/Flickr

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