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Thursday, August 02, 2012
Eating raw animal testicles was a favoured boost for ancient Olympians. Potions, medicines and supplements have been used to boost performance since the games began.
19th century athletes were fond of coca leaves, cocaine and alcohol. Thomas Hicks won the 1904 Olympic marathon with the help of raw egg, strychnine and shots of brandy.
"Doping has always been part of the Olympics, but drugs have not always been seen as a problem, they have become a problem," says Martin Polley, an Olympic historian at Britain's Southampton University.
As the perception of athletes changed, so did attitudes on what medicines, supplements and stimulants they should be allowed to consume.
What we consider to be a drug, changes over time," say researchers. Sometimes it's a medication, sometimes it's thought of as food, and sometimes it's a recreational drug.
As soon as the fight against stimulants and steroids began to produce results, potential cheats shifted towards blood doping in the 1970s and 1980s.
The IOC banned blood doping as a method in 1986, but couldn't use a reliable test for the blood drug erythropoietin (EPO) until the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000.
Now the World Anti-Doping Agency's "prohibited" list runs to hundreds of substances. The testing equipment at the London 2012 anti-doping lab, can screen up to 400 samples a day for more than 240 banned substances in less than 24 hours.
Yet Olympic historians are sure dopers will always be ahead and view it as a race the authorities can never really win.
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