Doping and sports - 1900-1909


In 1903, the use of doping was banned in equestrian sport, no mention was made of humane athletes.


The term 'dope' first appeared in the 'Petit Larousse Illustré' of 1903. It was defined as stimulants and its use during a race to give the horse a short-lived enthusiasm. It was specified that the method was forbidden by the rules during racing and on every occasion for military horses.


In 1903 doctors feared the stage distances from the Tour de France. They also regretted the absence of doctors for guiding the riders. The 'white coats' stated:

"There are more people to take care of the mechanics, than for the care of the riders ... that's why soigneurs are asked a lot."


American Thomas Hicks (1875-1963), winner of the marathon at the1904 Olympics of St Louis, was given strychnine and cognac a couple of times during that competition. Dr. Charles Lucas, one of the attending physicians, noted in the report of these Games:

"The marathon shows that drugs from a medical point of view are very beneficial for athletes."

Hicks reached the finish behind teammate Fred Lorz (1884-1914), but he was disqualified because he had covered half of the journey in a car. Hicks also got help from outside when he got it in trouble. The aforementioned Doctor Lucas injected him a milligram strychnine sulphate and let him drink a large glass of brandy. Hicks recovered somewhat but needed a second injection at four miles from the finish to reach the end.


World Champion cycling Jimmy Michael (1877-1904) from Wales died at the age of 27 during a boat trip to New York. Delirium tremens was noted as cause and the captain wanted to throw his corpse overboard, but Michael's young widow could prevent that.
In the previous years Michael was accompanied by the notorious Choppy Warburton (1845-1897), whose successes were openly questioned.


In Germany, the word doping first appeared in a magazine for veterinary medicine, it was reported that the owner of a Dusseldorf racing stable was convicted because he had an electric battery attached to one of his horses.


New Zealand newspapers reported on doping in international cycling in 1908.


During the Olympic marathon in London, South African Charles Hefferon (1878-1931) was far ahead and led to the last mile. After he drank the glass of champagne offered by a spectator, he lost ground and Dorando Pietri (1885-1942) passed him by. But the Italian was also at the end of his forces, when he arrived at the stadium he was completely dazed and ran in the wrong direction. Officials sent him in the right direction, but then he collapsed. After he was helped to get up, he collapsed again and was again pulled up by officials who dragged him over the finish line just as the American Johnny Hayes (1886-1965) walked into the stadium. American protest caused the disqualification of Pietri, gold for Hayes and silver for Hefferon.

The British Queen Alexandra of Denmark (1844-1925) was so struck by the Italian's performance that she handed him a golden cup the next day. Moreover, due to the commotion about Pietri's disqualification and Hayes's victory, the public interest had become so great that two matches between the two were organized in the United States, both of which were won by Pietri. Later it became known that Pietri had also been drugged with strychnine.


In the Austrian city of Graz there was a lot of experimenting with banned drugs. The Austrian lawyer, author and journalist Michel Angelo Freiherr von Zois (1874-1945), who himself was a cyclist, wrote in his book 'Das Training des Rennfahrers':

"The use of arsenic has certainly come into the world with the cyclists from Graz, the use of which is also known to lumbermen from the Alps to better withstand the rigors of the high mountains."

Von Zois condemned the habit as 'reprehensible', but understood that the arsenic user would die of misery if he was denied the poison. Other elixirs were more innocent in nature, as Zois wrote about hs trainer and founder of the European trainers' school:

"Even Gayer sometimes gave a drink to his men before the start, one of them was Styrian, a very light red wine."