A Powerfully Concentrated History of Performance Enhancement

Photo: Wikimedia Commons


8th century BC Greek Olympians load up on mushrooms, herbs, and wine to boost speed.

6th century BC Indian surgeon performs the world’s first rhinoplasty (nose job).

1599 Vatican condemns plastic surgery for tinkering with God’s creation.

1675 King Charles II bans coffee for inspiring jittery, seditious talk.

1888 British dictionary defines “doping” as “a mixture of opium and alcohol given to race horses.”

1889 Pitcher “Pud” Galvin injects himself with ground animal testicles, wins 364 games.

1904 American marathon runner wins Olympic gold while chugging egg whites, brandy, and strychnine.

1940s Nazis give their troops amphetamines. So do the Japanese, British, and Americans.

1966 The Rolling Stones release “Mother’s Little Helper.”

1969 Track & Field News hails steroids as the “breakfast of champions.”

1973 The Six Million Dollar Man debuts; today, he’d be worth $29 million.

1983 A presenter at a urology convention drops trou to demo his new impotence treatment, a Viagra precursor.

1996 Arnold Schwarzenegger says he has “no regrets” about steroid use: “It was what I had to do to compete.”

1997 Former East German shot-put champ has a female-to-male sex change after years of artificial testosterone use.

2003 Olympics removes caffeine from its list of banned substances.

2004 Viagra sponsors online fantasy baseball game “Clutch Performances.”

2006 Disgraced sprinter Ben Johnson promotes Cheetah energy drink: “I Cheetah all the time.”

2007 Provigil spotted in Britney Spears’ purse.

2008 FDA okays Latisse, a glaucoma medicine, as the first prescription drug for “longer, fuller, darker lashes.”

2008 US Olympic Committee launches “Don’t Be an Asterisk” anti-steroids campaign.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.