Monday, August 07, 2006

Using Drugs in Sports - Deja Vu By CYNTHIA CROSSEN : "For centuries, elite athletes have used special diets and potions to give them an edge beyond their physical training. Ancient Greek athletes apparently prepared themselves with high-protein diets and hallucinogenic mushrooms. Roman gladiators may have used stimulants. But starting in the late 19th century, advances in science and the emergence of a new class of professional athletes combined to make drugs an increasingly common competitive strategy.

In the 1904 Olympics in St. Louis, U.S. marathon runner Thomas Hicks finished first, thanks in part to the strychnine (a stimulant at low doses) and brandy his handlers were feeding him along the route. Despite this becoming public knowledge, Mr. Hicks was allowed to keep his medal.

Jacques Anquetil, a French cyclist who won the Tour de France five times beginning in 1957, openly admitted using drugs during competitions and implied that every top cyclist did. "Only a fool would imagine it was possible to win the Tour de France on mineral water," Mr. Anquetil said. On July 13, 1967, British cyclist Tommy Simpson died as he competed in the televised Tour de France; traces of amphetamine and cognac were later found in his blood.

Terry Todd, author of "A History of the Use of Anabolic Steroids in Sports," (1992) believes two cultural phenomena of the 1960s made doping in sports inevitable and intractable."

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