Cycling and Illegal Substances – A Stain on the Cycling World

The world of cycling is very competitive and sometimes, when people want that extra edge to tower over their competition, they resort to drugs. Steroids of various kinds have been seen throughout cycling history.

Here is an overview of what sorts of illegal substances have been taken during the relatively modest professional cycling history.

The First Time’s the Worst

While this might not be true in general, when it comes to cycling and illegal substances, the first documented case resulted in a death. In 1886, a Welsh cyclist died of an overdose of cocaine, caffeine and strychnine during the Bordeaux-Paris race. This was not illegal at the time and was considered a normal, if not even a frequent thing. Today, however, caffeine is legal, yet cocaine definitely isn’t.

The Following Cases in the 19th and 20th century

Unfortunately, illegals substances and performance enhancers are very popular in sports and while illegal, they also pose a threat to the human body. Abuse of the said substances can lead to permanent organ damage and death.

The first documented death only paved the way for more athletes. Next on this grim list is Arthur Linton, who died out of exhaustion and typhoid fever. This was most likely due to drugs. Choppy Warburton, a notorious manager and racer, was said to be responsible for this train of thought. He was known as a drug abuser in the sport community of the 19th century.

An interesting thing to note that in the 1930s, drugs were so common in cycling that the Tour de France officials stated that they would not be providing drugs themselves.

In the 1960s, Knud Enemark Jensen, Denmark’s cyclist was riding in the Summer Olympic games under the influence of amphetamines. He collapsed during a race and was hospitalized, only to die not long after.

In 1964, the first anti doping law was passed by France. Two years later, the first official tests started at the Tour de France. Raymond Poulidor was the first to be tested. He was asked by two men whether he was a rider or not, then taken to a separate room and told to urinate in two bottles. The day after, riders started protesting.

The very end of the century saw famous cyclist Lance Armstrong tested positive for corticoids. It was later found out that he was indeed on performance enhancers and his entire career from 1998 to 2012 was discredited.

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