The June 14 International Herald Tribune has an article by Blair Tindall (NY Times) which addresses this issue. Unfortunately, I've not been able to find a link and don't know whether it was ever published in the Times.
The headline is: "For dancers, a new athleticism -- at what price?" Tindall appears to be interested in connecting ballet and professional sports largely through the use or non-use of performance-enhancing chemicals.
Here's the intro:
What do the Sugar Plum Fairy and slulgger Barry Bonds have in common? Both top the list of elite athletes, according to a 1975 study in the Journal of Sports Medicine, which ranked ballet the most chalenging of 61 sports. However, only the baseball player has fallen under suspicion of using drdugs to power his late-career winning streak. [...]
Dance is primarily viewed as an art form rather than a sports event. But as North American dance companies devlop a new athleticism, their dancers jump higher, spin faster, and stay impossibly thin. Could they, too, be doping?
'I know of no current data substantiating the use of steroids and other performance enhancing drugs by professional dancers,' said Gary Wadler, an expert in performance enhancing drdugs at the NY University School of Medicine and lead author of "Drugs and the Athlete." 'But in the current climate of drug use, you can never be totally dismissive of the possibility, whether with performance-enhancing or social drugs.'
Tindall contrasts professional athletes and dancers in one important regard:
For athletes, the possibility of lucrative product endorsements or team contracts would fuel a willingness to risk health for world records.
Dancers hae few quantitative measures of success, and tend to focus on career longevity rather than risking all for one moment of glory. They earn modest pay from troupes classified as nonprofit charity organizations, and even dance stars like Michael Baryshnikov -- despite his appearance on '"Sex and the City" -- can't lend the same cachet to ad campaigns as Michael Jordan.
Tindall quotes a study (American Journal of Sports Medicine) that says ballet companies report an annual injury rate of 67 to 95 percent. [Personally, I find this hard to credit. Could the data be based on the practice of making reports of all injuries in case something might require that the dancer go on disability??]
He quotes Llinda Hamilton, "wellness consultant of the NY City Ballet": "Dancers are reinforced for being stoic from an early age, and often continue dancing because they theink of injuries as a sign of weakness."
Tindall also refers briefly to weight-control issues, the ideal body type for female ballet dancrs, the death in 1997 of Boston Ballet dancer Heidi Guenther, the use of recreational drugs by Gelsey Kirkland, the suicide of Patrick Bisssell, and other familiar stories.
'I wish I had racier stories for you,' said Linnette Roe, who saw little substance abause during her 12 years as a dancer with the Pacific North Ballet [sic]. 'But the number one performance-enchancing drug today is coffee.'