Fact Check: Are Donald Trump and Joe Biden Taking Performance-Enhancing Drugs?

The first presidential debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden will take place on Tuesday, September 29. It will be the first time the candidates have faced off in person.

While there are a number of major issues facing the United States, from the COVID-19 pandemic to race relations, one question could distract from all the rest: Are the candidates taking performance-enhancing drugs?

Accusations of drug-taking and speculation about Trump and Biden's health have arisen after both candidates have stumbled in debates and speeches in the past.

The president has recently added fuel to the fire by demanding a drug test before or after the debate.

Accusations Trump is taking performance-enhancing drugs

There has long been unverified speculation that Trump uses drugs. This appears to have started during the 2016 presidential debates with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, when Trump's sniffing was linked to possible drug use. Some have accused the president of snorting Adderall, a stimulant used to enhance focus or treat attention issues. Actor and comedian Tom Arnold accused President Donald Trump of previously taking the drug on the set of NBC's The Apprentice.

"Donald Trump abused Adderall on the set & it made him crazy. He even snorted Adderall. Mark Burnett knew it. It's scary," he wrote in a tweet.

Trump's refusal to release his medical records has only added to the speculation about his health and some of his public appearances, like his walk down a ramp at West Point, have contributed to concerns about his health.

Is there evidence of Trump taking performance-enhancing drugs?

Despite a lot of commentary on the matter, there is no evidence that Trump is taking performance-enhancing drugs. His stated willingness to be drug tested for the debates would also seem to undermine this claim, although the medical records from his doctor do not include the results of any drug tests.

Accusations of Biden taking performance-enhancing drugs

Trump has made unverified accusations that Biden took drugs to improve his debate performance in the Democratic primaries. The president's campaign has argued that Biden is in cognitive decline but Trump told Fox News' Jeannine Pirro on September 12 that Biden's debate victories could be the result of performance-enhancing substances.

"I think there's probably—possibly—drugs involved," Trump said. "That's what I hear. I mean, there's possibly drugs. I don't know how you can go from being so bad where you can't even get out a sentence."

The president's allies jumped on the accusation and the call for both candidates to take a drug test. Former White House physician Ronny Jackson, who is now a Republican congressional candidate, told Fox News on Monday there was reason to wonder about Biden's alleged drug-taking.

"But I think it's reasonable to ask if he's taking medications to help him with his alertness and his memory," Jackson told the network's Sean Hannity.

Is there evidence of Biden taking performance-enhancing drugs?

There is no evidence that Biden is taking performance-enhancing drugs, in spite of the president's suggestion. His campaign has also dismissed Trump's demands for a drug test.

"Vice President Biden intends to deliver his debate answers in words," a campaign spokesperson told Politico on September 27. "If the president thinks his best case is made in urine he can have at it."

"We'd expect nothing less from Donald Trump, who p***ed away the chance to protect the lives of 200,000 Americans when he didn't make a plan to stop COVID-19," the spokesperson said.

Joe Biden at the Black Economic Summit
Socially distanced attendees are reflected in Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden's sunglasses as he speaks at the Black Economic Summit at Camp North End in Charlotte, North Carolina, on September 23, 2020. Trump has accused Biden of using performance-enhancing drugs. JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images