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Doping in antiquity

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Olympians on Greek vase
Olympians on Greek vase

In ancient times, athletes used substances to increase the body’s efficiency. Sophist Flavius ​​Philostrat – Greek biographer from 2nd-3rd century CE – remembers that the medics gave the players a decoction of mushrooms or bread with spices and poppy extract, containing alkaloids stimulating the body.

Pliny the Younger recorded that the athletes consumed a herbal infusion supposedly to increase muscle mass and stamina before chariot racing. Greek runners were similar infusions. Ancient athletes also made frequent use of the stimulant properties of atropine found in Mondragon root.

In Greece, the power of bull testicles was also widely believed. The Olympians have undoubtedly been subjected to this testosterone-rich “bull” treatment. Products such as dried figs, wine, herbal remedies, strychnine and hallucinogens were also in use.

If an athlete turned out to be a cheat, he was banned from playing for life, and what name was on the walls leading to the amphitheatre, bringing disgrace to him and his family.


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