I can't quite agree with this. If you want spectacle you can have WWE and such nonsense. As for people watching non drugged athletes, I believe that was the case for hundreds of years before the current era of performance enhancing drugs. There was certainly no lack of fan base for baseball, football, tennis, track, basketball, etc. before say the 1980's or whenever the use of performance enhancing substances came into sport. Probably earlier, I remember the East German women in the olympics who looked like bodybuilders and talked like Arnold Schwarzenegger
Maybe no lack of a fan base in the part of the world where you live, but before the age of modern broad professional sports
, there was a decided lack of space for young talents, large numbers of them, to get on the ladder and make a living from their prowess and their talent. For the kids next door in most sports to really build any kind of career from the sport they were on to, stay on track and move from being the local talent into the top level, there had to be a realistic spectrum of ways to make money and a livable career - while you were moving up
, once you've reached the elite level, and post-career.
Back in the amateur age in sports such as track and field, football (soccer) and skiing (not commenting on baseball here because unfamiliar with U.S. ball game leagues, but the overall map is the same I think in big international sports), the deal was: unless you belonged among the top ten who could get cool publicity deals for appearing in commercials and so on, your being an elite athlete could mean living around your parents' house for years, while most of your friends got an education, moved out and actually began making more regular money than you. How come? Because going for an elite career in sports means training so much you don't have any time for a 9-to-5 job or for studying. Most people with a big talent in sports can't be competitive both in their event on a high level and on an ordinary daytime job - not without lots of assistance and understanding bosses. And earnings from the actual sports events, even for the champ of the day's event, were limited back then, often symbolic. So unless your family were so rich they could pay the way for your living on your own, journeys, training resources etc on the run-up to move into the elite level, unless you had a rich family or a wealthy national association in your event behind you early on, you would be hard put for money to meet expenses while trying to get up into the top. A daytime job would often not work, and all your parents would have the money for, if even that, would be to let you live in a side room of the house while you were trying to make it for real. Even if one was garnering support from the national track and field association or from the football club because they saw one's talent, that was the deal for most up-and-coming people, because there was much less money in sports itself.
Back in those days, football teams and county track-and-field clubs were 90% made up of people who had some sort of steady job outside of sports. And people got tired of this, got tired of having to languish under an amateur principle that was being held in place by the IOC, the IAAF and other sports associations and by the media, but which made it much tougher to get anywhere. Eventually the bigwig associations had to give in and accept that athletes could live as professionals, get sponsorship deals and accept big money for a game, or for being in a team, at any time, already in their teens actually. If this hadn't happened, the Olympics and the current big track-and-field championships (probably some of the US leagues too, though I'm not familiar with those) would have begun losing more and more new talents to fresh "pay sports" leagues and championships, and those would have begun encroaching on the amount of space for tv sports showing.
What audiences and athletes wanted was moving away from the model of a strictly idealistic, clean white sports world where only results on equal terms would count, and where the amateur principle (no accepting of any big money, prize money or pro wages, for being in the game as such) was seen as the guardian of this. People were pointing their fingers at the state-supported athletes of eastern Europe and saying 'hey, those look like they are going on some strange substances' - okay, but as soon as the amateur wall burst in the west, the same kind of doping began coming out into the open on top levels here too. Florence Griffith-Joyner looked every bit as unnaturally muscular as the East German girls, improved her performances suspiciously fast, and many people remain convinced she had been souping up with steroids and blood doping. The age when the amateur norm came under attack and was finally abandoned were also the years when doping became a more obvious thing in most sports.
Today there's much more sports on tv and a busier events calendar outside of what goes on tv, much more money in sports and much more options of making money on your sports than there's ever been - across the planet, and in the U.S. too, right? Many more people are able to get on the ladder and they build longer careers, because there's so much more money in this, and more of it actually reaches young athletes on the way up. Yeah, that means there are more substances around too. Of course. But I think Cyrano is right that the kind of spectacle we've come to expect of sports, and the actual breadth and level of activity, can't be sustained together with the idea that sports is ultimately about going "higher, faster, stronger" in only natural ways - if there's also going to be a really hardline watch on doping. If those two are going to coexist, the business side of sports (including the options many people have of making a living out of their events) and the mystique of sports, then substances are gonna be on the scene too.