User menu

Shopping cart

Spitting in the Soup: Inside the Dirty Game of Doping in Sports (Hardcover)

Spitting in the Soup: Inside the Dirty Game of Doping in Sports By Mark Johnson Cover Image
Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability


Doping is as old as organized sports. From baseball to horse racing, cycling to track and field, drugs have been used to enhance performance for 150 years. For much of that time, doping to do better was expected. It was doping to throw a game that stirred outrage.

Today, though, athletes are vilified for using performance-enhancing drugs. Damned as moral deviants who shred the fair-play fabric, dopers are an affront to the athletes who don’t take shortcuts.

But this tidy view swindles sports fans. While we may want the world sorted into villains and victims, putting the blame on athletes alone ignores decades of history in which teams, coaches, governments, the media, scientists, sponsors, sports federations, and even spectators have played a role. The truth about doping in sports is messy and shocking because it holds a mirror to our own reluctance to spit in the soupthat is, to tell the truth about the spectacle we crave.

In Spitting in the Soup, sports journalist Mark Johnson explores how the deals made behind closed doors keep drugs in sports. Johnson unwinds the doping culture from the early days, when pills meant progress, and uncovers the complex relationships that underlie elite sports culturethe essence of which is not to play fair but to push the boundaries of human performance.

It’s easy to assume that drugs in sports have always been frowned upon, but that’s not true. Drugs in sports are old. It’s banning drugs in sports that is new. Spitting in the Soup offers a bitingly honest, clear-eyed look at why that’s so, and what it will take to kick pills out of the locker room once and for all.

About the Author

Mark Johnson is a sportswriter and sports photographer. He has covered cycling and endurance sports as a writer and photographer since the 1980s. His work often focuses on the business of pro cyclinga topic that frequently intersects with the sport’s long history of doping. Along with U.S. publications like VeloNews and Road, his work is published in Cycling Weekly in the UK, Velo in France, Ride Cycling Review and CyclingNews in Australia as well as general-interest publications including the Wall Street Journal. 4655 published Johnson’s first book, Argyle Armada: Behind the Scenes of the Pro Cycling Life, for which Johnson was embedded for a year with the Garmin-Cervélo professional cycling team. A category II road cyclist, Mark has also bicycled across the United States twice and completed an Ironman triathlon. A graduate of the University of California, San Diego, the author also has an MA and PhD in English Literature from Boston University. His other passion is surfing, which he does frequently from the home he shares with his wife and two sons in Del Mar, California.

Praise For…

"Johnson’s book explores the history of doping in sports, going back 150 years.”
Men’s Journal

“This may go down as the most important book on doping ever written. A fantastic work.”
Red Kite Prayer

“Mark Johnson is a long-time, in-the-trenches cycling journalist whose many years of reporting shine through in his book. Johnson… uses academic rigor combined with a journalist's grind-it-out research and solid, accurate writing to give us a fast-moving history.”
Mike Sandrock, Daily Camera

“Johnson's book shows that doping is so intertwined with sports that it will take a long time for Olympic athletes and their federations to quit using drugs to win.”
Public Radio International’s The World

“Mark Johnson takes the subject of anti-doping as his focus and serves up a dose of Gladwellian counter-intuitive paradigm-shifting, challenging your perception of today's anti-doping system. . . A rewarding read.”
Feargal McKay, Podium Café, "The Top 10 Cycling Books of 2016"

“In Spitting in the Soup, Mark Johnson argues that blaming only the athletes ignores larger cultural influences; teams, coaches, sports federations, and even spectators play a role. He also points to the problem of singling out the use of performance-enhancing drugs in a society in which Prozac and Adderall are prescribed routinely.”
Publishers Weekly

“In his new book, Spitting in the Soup, Mark Johnson dives into the history of performance-enhancing drugs and investigates the political, commercial, medical, social, and athletic currents that have shaped our attitudes toward them.”
VeloNews magazine

“It’s readable, it’s compelling, it’s thought provoking. Mark Johnson will have you questioning your critical thinking skills.”
David Halfpenny, Bicycles Network Australia

Spitting in the Soup is fantastic, but then you would not expect less from Mark Johnson. I am in no way a scholar of doping, but I have always figured my personal experience within the sport of cycling would qualify me as a bit of an expert in its culture of doping. Mark’s book introduced me to history I didn’t know and colored in a lot of story gaps elsewhere. I’ve always believed that cycling is more beautiful warts-and-all, with full disclosure, without revisionist history, and without plastic surgery. The topic of doping in sports is not a black-and-white issue, no matter how much so many people want it to be that simple. Spitting in the Soup only strengthens that feeling for me. Every fan of cycling should read it.”
Joe Parkin, author of A Dog in a Hat and Come and Gone

Spitting in the Soup is a hard-hitting, comprehensive, and highly readable analysis of the varying societal and historical forces driving our love-hate relationship with sports and doping… It’s is a fascinating book that should be of interest to anyone heavily invested in sports, whether as an athlete, coach, sport scientist, or fan.”

Product Details
ISBN: 9781937715274
ISBN-10: 1937715272
Publisher: VeloPress
Publication Date: July 1st, 2016
Pages: 320
Language: English
ABA Admin Product Details
Data Source: ONIX
Created At: 1/26/2015 02:06am
Last Updated At: 8/22/2023 11:22am