The article featured this photograph of Santos:
Does it not seem almost embarrassingly apparent that Santos is juicing? Here's another picture of him from a few years ago:
His body has all the usual steroid signatures: the line between the pecs is well-defined all the way up to his collarbones; his deltoids taper down to a well-defined point on the sides of his arms; he has convex trapezius muscles; he has a medical muscle chart level of definition; and he has veins popping out in places you wouldn't expect, like the outside of his right forearm in the top picture.
I'm sure he's passed all the drug tests he's been given, like many notorious juicers in sport. But the dopers are always a step ahead with new designer forms of artificial hormones for which tests haven't been devised yet.
Swimming seems to be a relatively clean sport. I think most of its biggest recent stars -- Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Katie Ledecky, and Sarah Sjostrom -- are all obviously clean. But swimmers who look juiced aren't all that rare. And it's particularly suspicious when the athlete in question doesn't have any other markers for high testosterone levels.
When you see someone like French rugby player Sebastien Chabal, who was obviously hyperandrogenized as he was growing up --
-- big muscles are supposed to be part of the equation. They fit with the Neanderthal brow, the prominent nose, the wide cheekbones and the big bone structure, all of which express a naturally high testosterone level:
And Chabal, though he was listed as being 6' 3" and 249 pounds, doesn't even look overly muscular.
It's far more suspicious when someone who is basically boyish-looking -- meaning, their facial features and bone structure don't reflect their having had a high level of testosterone while growing up -- has abnormal musculature. An example of that would be Adam Peaty, the British Olympic champion and world record holder in the 100 meter breaststroke:
His huge arms simply don't "match" his boyish face and tiny waist. Here's another picture of Peaty:
Note the way his deltoid tapers down to a well-defined point, and the line between his pectorals extending all the way up to his collarbones.
Another example would be Ben Proud, who a couple weeks ago tied the second fastest ever 50 meter freestyle in textile:
Proud has the face of a guy who got picked on in junior high, and the body of a cartoon superhero.
I'm not saying Peaty and Proud are unquestionably doping (I think most British swimmers are clean, a statement I wouldn't make about the Brazilians or Chinese). And I obviously don't have proof that any of the three swimmers shown above are taking PEDs. But, the visual evidence is pretty compelling.
Bear in mind that it's awfully hard to develop such chiseled, bulging muscles while swimming six or so miles per day. Daily hard swimming workouts tend to wear one down and result in long, relatively slender, loose muscle, not the kind of muscle which would look at home on a body-building stage. Contrast the swimmers pictured above with the following examples of world class swimmers with more typical swimmers' builds.
Jack Conger, the American record holder in the 200 yard butterfly:
Will Licon, the American record holder in the 200 yard breaststroke:
Clark Smith, the American record holder in the 500 and 1650 yard freestyles:
Ippei Watanabe, the world record holder in the 200 meter breaststroke:
Aaron Piersol, the world record holder in the 200 meter backstroke:
It's virtually impossible to swim the distances required to be a world class competitor and be left with a sharply defined, bulging, body builder-like physique.
One must always allow for the fact that human beings come in an infinite variety of shapes and sizes. But when you see certain patterns, it's hard not to be suspicious. Especially since steroids leave their mark on a body as indelibly as gluttony, or a taste for tattoos.