Stimulants and other performance-enhancing drugs were by all accounts popular among athletes in the 1920s. This article revolves around the Finnish Olympic champion Paavo Nurmi, his German rival Otto Peltzer, and a 1927 drug slur that engulfed the two of them. While the slur had apparently no factual basis, the two athletes were equally keen on perfection, but only Peltzer has been persistently associated with drugs. As a case study of two runners and the conflicting ways the drug issue has been represented, the article is an invitation to approach drug-related claims with caution and, conversely, from the athletes' perspective. The International Amateur Athletic Federation formally prohibited doping, or the use of stimulants "not normally employed" in 1928, but the ruling was ambiguous enough to let curious athletes experiment with a host of drugs to improve their performance.


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pp. 415-430
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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