A Critical Assessment of John Hoberman's Histories of Drugs in Sport


Dimeo P (2007) A Critical Assessment of John Hoberman's Histories of Drugs in Sport. Sport in History, 27 (2), pp. 318-342.

John Hoberman has been one of the most prominent historians of doping and anti-doping in world sport. His writings span two decades and include two monographs: Mortal Engines (1992) and Testosterone Dreams (2005). This article focuses on those two books and offers three principal forms of criticism. Firstly, that Hoberman does not offer conceptual clarity on issues such as doping regulation/liberalization. Secondly, that a powerful implicit theme of nostalgia and even anti-modernity underlies his analyses, though that has changed over time. And thirdly, that his historical methodology is questionable. The conclusion of this review is that while he offers some powerful thought-provoking arguments, these are undermined by a lack of consistency, misleading interpretation and presentation of source material, and a failure to follow rigorous historiographic methods.

Sport; Drugs; Doping in sports; Athletes drug use; Sports and state; Hoberman John

Sport in History: Volume 27, Issue 2

Publication date30/06/2007
Publication date online10/09/2007
PublisherRoutledge (of Taylor & Francis)