Edit: The formula Romano/Roberts used accounts for body fat with the CrossFit competitors. They used a conservative estimate of 9%.
Last year I wrote “Steroids and CrossFit?“. The article was an extension of my opinion regarding performance enhancement drugs (PEDs) as well as highlighting an article Anthony Roberts and John Romano wrote about the likelihood of PEDs in CrossFit (the original link is broken, but here is an image of their original article). Their article is interesting and provides the context for everything below.
Here’s a quick summary:
- these guys are experts on PEDs
- drug tests are very easy to beat
- testing agencies are mediocre at best, purposely negligent at worse
- every major sport (including the Olympics) has steroid users
- given some formulas (backed by research) that look at musculature on a man’s frame, CrossFit competitors fit the mold of steroid use
The formula Roberts and Romano used is as follows:
Roberts and Romano plugged in the stats of the top ten finishers of the 2013 CrossFit Games. The research would indicated anyone with a value of over 25.4 would qualify someone as a potential PED user. They modified the variables in favor of the CF fellas (such as estimating a higher body fat percentage and allowing a cut-off coefficient of 26), and 5 of the top 10 finishers still fell in the “potential user” category.
This doesn’t mean they are using PEDs, it just means the conditions exist that achieving a lean body mass naturally are not probable due to researched norms. In defense of the CF guys, my values placed my coefficient around 25 as well.
Everything up to this point in this article is a recap to get you up to speed. If you’re lost, read both of the linked articles above.
A 70’s Big Reader crunched the numbers from the 2015 CrossFit Games, and here are the results:
Everyone above the red bar has the bodily parameters for PEDs use. That’s nearly 30 competitors from this year’s CrossFit Games that have a muscularity and height ratio greater than Mr. Universes of years past.
Is CrossFit just like any other sport in that people will use PEDs to gain an advantage? Or is the realm of CrossFit and Strength and Conditioning such that we are making impressive physiques? Do I think that all of them are using? No, but we’d be foolish to assume all of them weren’t.