AP Steroid Investigation Looks at Rapid Weight Gains in College Football Players

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Far less than one percent of college football players test positive for anabolic steroids or performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs). But rapid and dramatic weight gains by thousands of players suggest that the use of anabolic steroids is widespread according to an investigation by the Associated Press.

The Associated Press (AP) analyzed the body weight records for over 61,000 collegiate football players over the past decade. More than 4,700 players gained over 20 pounds in a single year. Gains of ten to fifteen pounds were very common. Approximately 100 players gained over 80 pounds in a single year.

Surprisingly, Mary Wilfert, the NCAA’s associate director of health and safety, told the AP that weight gain is not a factor that comes into consideration when deciding to administer steroid testing to athletes.

Kathy Turpin, senior director of anti-doping for the National Center for Drug Free Sport, views rapid weight gain differently than Wilfert. She admitted that weight gain alone can not prove an athlete is using steroids. But it is one factor that may contribute to suspicions.

Many players interviewed by the AP claimed to put on considerable body weight without the assistance of steroids.

Clint Oldenburg, a lineman for Colorado State University, gained 53 pound during his freshman year. Over the course of his collegiate career he bulked up from 212 to 290 for a total of 78 pounds. While Oldenburg knew several teammates who used steroids, he still claimed to be steroid-free.

“I just ate. I ate 5-6 times a day,” said Oldenburg. “It wasn’t as difficult as you think. I just ate anything.”

Ben Lamaak, a lineman for Iowa State University, gained 81 pounds during his freshman year. Over the course of his career at ISU, he went from 225 to 320 for a total of 95 pounds. Lamaak said he did it naturally. He was never singled out for steroid testing.

“I was just a young kid at that time, and I was still growing into my body,” said Lamaak. “It really wasn’t that hard for me to gain the weight. I had fun doing it. I love to eat. It wasn’t a problem.”


Apuzzo, M. et al. (December 20, 2012). AP IMPACT: Steroids loom in major-college football. Retrieved from