Doping in Sport May 6, 2020 12:13:56 GMT -5
Post by Woland on May 6, 2020 12:13:56 GMT -5
For the moderators: I wasn't sure if "sports" qualifies as "cultural history" so I'm posting it here.
For the rest of you mortals: Feel free to add any anecdotes and stories about the use of performance-enhancing drugs in sport.
Performance-enhancing drugs goes back a long way in the world of sport. In many cases the athletes were ahead of the authorities, it was only in the 1960s when when sports federations started to take doping seriously. In some cases the authorities have been complicit in the crimes, fearing the economic hit to their lucrative sports, a couple examples off the top of my head:
As recently as 2001 the Nevada Athletic State Commission did not test boxers for steroids (think of every major Heavyweight title fight in Vegas during the 90s).
The World Cup winning West German side of 1954 were believed to have taken metamphetamine injections (unbeknownst to them), their 3-2 win over Hungary (known as the "Magnificent Magyars) is known as the "Miracle of Bern".
Possibly the most notorious early doping story occurred in the 1904 Marathon in the Summer Olympics: The initial "winner" Frederick Lorz was disqualified for using a car, while the real winner Thomas Hicks almost died shortly after crossing the finish line.
Turns out about 10 miles before the end, the British-born American was given shots of Brandy and doses of strychnine by his assistants to get him over the line. The conditions were so bad over half the field didn't finish the race: 30°C weather, the horrendously dusty roads and extreme humidity, poor organising and weather. Near the end Hicks he could barely walk and was said to be hallucinating, at one point his assistants were holding him up by the arms as he shuffled his feet to make it look like he was running! After he collapsed if the doctors hadn't treated him quickly enough he would've almost certainly died in the stadium.
An interesting thing to note is in the Boston Marathon a year later Hicks would fail to finish while the disqualified Lorz finished 1st.
Photo of Hicks being helped by his assistants.