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Olympic Medicine and Rhode Island Olympians

July 27, 2012

You might think a health care reporter wouldn’t have much interest in covering the Olympics. Think again! (Personally, I can’t wait for the opening ceremonies tonight.)

Thomas Hicks, during 1904 Olympic marathon

But actually there’s a long history of the Olympics and medicine (e.g., the research into the physiology of human endurance). You can read more about it in this cool piece by David S. Jones, M.D., Ph.D. in the New England Journal of Medicine, including this story about an early instance of the use of performance enhancing drugs:

“When the modern games began in Athens in 1896, physicians only slowly became interested — and mostly in marathons. Heat and humidity tormented marathoners in St. Louis in 1904: only 14 of 27 finished. The winner, who sustained himself during the race with strychnine sulfate, five eggs, and brandy, required the care of four physicians in the aftermath.”

Strychnine. Yikes.

Also, here’s a fun round-up of Rhode Island Olympians throughout the decades from  RI swimmer Elizabeth Beisel continues the tradition at this Olympics, and we’re following her from the RIPR newsroom.

Let the games begin!

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