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Wow, did I ever get a lot of email from my ESPN Radio spot on Ethical cheating or Ergogenic aids. Thanks to everyone who emailed me. I apologize, I will not be able to answer everyone individually but I will cover all the topics I wanted to cover one by one here on this Blog.
So when do you think Ethical cheating or Ergogenic aids started?
I mentioned the 1904 Olympic marathon in the interview, but it goes way back.
Would you believe the first Olympics in 776 BC?
The primary motivators were first strength based and (perceived) energy boosters, including stimulants.
Yes, the men (no women were allowed to compete) ate sheep’s testicles, and you thought reality TV was bad!. This, of course, was to believe the testicles would give them strength from the added testosterone!
By 1863, the Europeans, especially the French and the Dutch, were drinking Vin Mariani, which then contained 6 mg of cocaine per fluid ounce of wine! (1 fluid ounce = 28 mL) But the Americans were drinking similar drinks with 7.2 mg of cocaine per ounce! You guessed it, Coke!
By 1932, sprinters were experimenting with sublingual nitroglycerine to dilate their coronary arteries. This was the start of modern day nitric oxides products, including the use of Viagra in today’s athletes. And you can’t test positive for Viagra. At least not yet.
Another use of stimulants was with Benzedrine inhalers, which is primarily a bronchodilator, and later discovered to have an euphoric stimulant effect. If you’ve heard the term “bennies” in novels or TV, they are referring to the paper strips inside these inhalers which contained Benzedrine. They would roll up these strips of Benzedrine-laced paper, and swallow them with alcohol or coffee. Anything for a high. Idiots.
Back to Testosterone
The history of injectable Testosterone goes back to 1935, but it wasn’t until 1955 when John Ziegler (then the physician for the US weightlifting team), developed a modified synthetic Testosterone molecule with the chemical name methandrostenolone otherwise known as Dianabol.
Today, it is common for men of 50 years of age or older to visit their physician every 3 weeks for a testosterone injection to “correct their hormones levels”. (I won’t get into this argument with Masters Track and the use of TUE, or therapeutic use exemption). And you wonder how these 50 year old men have a body of a 30 year old? (cough cough… other than paying for her apartment and cell phone bill… inside joke, sorry guys, you know who you are!)
We’ve all heard the story of NFL locker rooms back in the 1960s where bowls of Dianabol were available for football players to sprinkle these little blue pills into their cereal bowl! (sorry, not that little blue pill)
By 1968, the use of steroids were rampant. I’m getting off topic here, because in 1968, there was no formal drug testing, so steroid use was allowed, making it an ergogenic aid. (Actually, there was drug testing, but the results were inconclusive)
Was it a level playing field? Possibly, if everyone was on it.
So until the IAAF catches up with research and drug testing, there are many ways to “legally” have an advantage in Track & Field and all sports in general.