Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about the Olympics and Olympians and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the Olympic urban legends featured so far.
OLYMPIC URBAN LEGEND: Of the first two finishers of the 1904 Olympic Marathon, one nearly died due to taking drugs designed to help him win the competition – and that’s the one who DIDN’T get disqualified.
In a sports world that has seen one Olympic skater attempt to have another skater (from her own country) crippled before the Olympics and seen countless star athletes revealed to have used some form of performance-enhancing drugs (like steroids), I suppose the events of the 1904 Olympic Marathon would not be that surprising. However, the sheer amount of scandal packed into one race is still quite notable, and one can only imagine the attention such a race would have received in the modern age of the 24 hour news cycle.
Of the first two men to cross the finish line in the 1904 Marathon, Thomas Hicks nearly died from using his era’s equivalent of “performance-enhancing drugs,” and he was the one who WASN’T disqualified. Fred Lorz’s journey to the finish line was even stranger than that, as it involved getting a ride in a car!
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