Doping in Sport - Benzedrine

Benzedrine

Benzedrine is a trade name for amphetamine. The Council of Europe says it first appeared in sport at the Berlin Olympics in 1936. It was produced in 1887 and the derivative, Benzedrine, was isolated in the U.S. in 1934 by Gordon Alles. Its perceived effects gave it the street name "speed". British troops used 72 million amphetamine tablets in the Second World War and the RAF got through so many that "Methedrine won the Battle of Britain" according to one report. The problem was that amphetamine leads to a lack of judgement and a willingness to take risks, which in sport could lead to better performances but in fighters and bombers led to more crash landings than the RAF could tolerate. The drug was withdrawn but large stocks remained on the black market. Amphetamine was also used legally as an aid to slimming and also as a thymoleptic before being phased out by the appearance of newer agents in the 1950s.

Everton have long been one of the top clubs in the English association football league. The club were champions of the 1962–63 season. And it was done, according to a national newspaper investigation, with the help of Benzedrine. Word spread after Everton's win that the drug had been involved. The newspaper investigated, cited where the reporter believed it had come from, and quoted the goalkeeper, Albert Dunlop, as saying:

I cannot remember how they first came to be offered to us. But they were distributed in the dressing rooms. We didn't have to take them but most of the players did. The tablets were mostly white but once or twice they were yellow. They were used through the 1961–62 season and the championship season which followed it. Drug-taking had previously been virtually unnamed in the club. But once it had started we could have as many tablets as we liked. On match days they were handed out to most players as a matter of course. Soon some of the players could not do without the drugs.

The club agreed that drugs had been used but that they "could not possibly have had any harmful effect." Dunlop, however, said he had become an addict.

Benzedrine and its sister drugs were irresistible in other sports. In November 1942, the Italian cyclist Fausto Coppi took "seven packets of amphetamine" to beat the world hour record on the track. In 1960, the Danish rider Knud Enemark Jensen collapsed during the 100 km team time trial at the Olympic Games in Rome and died later in hospital. The autopsy showed he had taken amphetamine and another drug, Ronicol, which dilates the blood vessels. The chairman of the Dutch cycling federation, Piet van Dijk, said of Rome that "dope - whole cartloads - used in such royal quantities."

The British professional Jock Andrews used to joke: "You need never go off-course chasing the peloton in a big race - just follow the trail of empty syringes and dope wrappers."

The Dutch cycling team manager Kees Pellenaars told of a rider in his care:

I took him along to a training camp in Spain. The boy changed then into a sort of lion. He raced around as though he was powered by rockets. I went to talk to him. He was really happy he was riding well and he told me to look out for him. I asked if he wasn't perhaps "using something" and he jumped straight up, climbed on a chair and from deep inside a cupboard he pulled out a plastic bag full of pills. I felt my heart skip a beat. I had never seen so many fireworks together. With a soigneur we counted the pills: there were 5,000 of them, excluding hormone preparations and sleeping pills. I took them away, to his own relief. I let him keep the hormones and the sleeping pills.
Later he seemed to have taken too many at once and he slept for a couple of days on end. We couldn't wake him up. We took him to hospital and they pumped out his stomach. They tied him to his bed to prevent anything going wrong again. But one way or another he had some stimulant and fancied taking a walk. A nurse came across him in the corridor, walking along with the bed strapped to his back.

Read more about this topic:  Doping In Sport

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