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Performance Enhancing Drugs: A Long, Strange Trip

Performance Enhancing Drugs: A Long, Strange Trip

The December issue of Men's Fitness brings you the story of a Boulder, Colorado endurance athlete who uses pot as a performance enhancing drug. But weed isn't even close to the weirdest substance athletes have used to get ahead. From rat poison to piss, here is a brief look at the strangest dopers in sports history.

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At Mile 19 of the 1904 Olympic Marathon in St. Louis, amid 90-degree temperatures, American cross-country star Thomas Hicks needed a boost. So he downed a dose of stimulate strychnine sulfate—a common rat poison—and chased it with raw eggs and brandy. Though the pain-relieving concoction nearly killed him, he ended up cruising to gold in three hours and 28 minutes.

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On one June afternoon in San Diego, Pittsburgh Pirate Dock Ellis took a different kind of trip to the pitcher’s mound — having dropped a massive hit of LSD just hours before the first pitch (or so he claims). He may have plunked a few batters and sent a few rather erratic, haphazard lobs at the plate — which, to his credit, he said he couldn’t see very clearly — but he also managed to miraculously strike out six batters and record a no-hitter.

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Former MMA fighter Luke Cummo made his debut in the Octagon as a vocal proponent of urine therapy. He believed that a daily ration of his own pee preserved the natural hormones and minerals of the body. (No science supports this.) Near the end of his career, he also began snorting his urine, saying it relieved pain in his nose, which was fractured multiple times during his six years in the cage.

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In one of the more bizarre sports scandals in recent memory, former NFL star Ray Lewis was accused of using deer antler spray. (Meanwhile, PGA golfer Vijay Singh, actually admitted to using it.) The liquid, extracted from deer antlers, was purported to contain IGF-1, a compound linked to muscle regeneration. Users would spritz the substance behind the tongue multiple times a day, hoping to gain an edge.

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Delving into the hard sciences, in 2008 researchers from the World Anti-Doping Association asked some college lacrosse players to take Viagra, the impotence drug, to examine its effects on physical endurance. Not surprisingly, it turns out that enhanced blood flow — great for Grandpa’s libido — is also great for oxygen-deprived muscles. The blue pill has never been banned, and in 2012 player Brandon Marshall claimed its widespread use in the NFL.

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