Summary of an observational study looking at what is the difference in facial proportions between Olympic weightlifting athletes who took anabolic steroids and the athletes who didn’t.
71 Olympic weightlifting athletes (females 27, males 44) at the international level who were sanctioned between 2004 and 2017 by the International Weightlifting Federation (World). 89% (63 athletes) sanctioned for the use of anabolic steroids, 1 female and 7 male weightlifters sanctioned due to other rules violations.
71 control athletes were randomly drawn from the 2017 World Championships (Anaheim, California) and from the top ten athletes from the Olympic Games 2016. If the athlete had a history of being ever sanctioned, they were excluded.
Observational case-control study. Each sanctioned athlete had the control athlete matched from the same weight class.
- facial width-to-height ratio via forward-facing images
facial width-to-height ratio – ratio between the width (the horizontal distance between the left and right zygions - outer points on zygomatic arches) and height (the vertical distance between the highest point of the upper lip and the highest point of the eyelids).
- Athletes who were sanctioned due to the use of anabolic steroids also had higher facial width-to-height ratio than non-doping sanctioned athletes:Athletes' groupAthletes sanctioned due to the use of anabolic steroidsAthletes sanctioned due other violationsNon-sanctioned athletesFacial width-to-height ratioAthletes' groupAthletes sanctioned due to the use of anabolic steroids2.06±0.18Athletes sanctioned due other violations2.10±0.14Non-sanctioned athletes1.99±0.16
- there was no difference between females and males
Take home message
Krenn B, Buehler C. Facial features and unethical behavior–Doped athletes show higher facial width-to-height ratios than non-doping sanctioned athletes. PloS one. 2019 Oct 30;14(10):e0224472.