chapter  13
Drug and Nutrient Interactions in Masters Athletes
Pages 20

In contrast to current accepted practices in the twenty-first century, Galen actively advocated the use of medications to enhance competitive performance which at that time was blood-thirsty gladiatorial combat. One can only speculate as to the effectiveness of Galen’s concoction of the ‘rear hooves of an Abyssinian ass, ground up, boiled in oil and flavoured with rose hips and rose petals’. However, the gladiators were not alone in using pharmacological enhancement. Ancient Olympic athletes are reported to have dined on sheep testicles (a source of testosterone) and to have liberally consumed a variety of plants (e.g. cola, cacti, hashish, fungi) and plant seeds in order to gain a competitive advantage. Clearly, the medication-fuelled ancient athletes exhibited both desirable and undesirable behaviours. Thus, it is not surprising that the ancient era of pharmacological enhancement ended with the banning of competitive ‘pagan’ sports including the Olympic Games in 393 AD.