Ancient Olympians didn’t have performance-enhancing drugs at their disposal, but according to those who know the era best, if the ancient Greeks could have doped, a number of athletes definitely would have. “We only know of a small number of examples of cheating but it was probably fairly common,” says David Gilman Romano, a professor of Greek archaeology at the University of Arizona.
And yet the athletes had competing interests. “Law, oaths, rules, vigilant officials, tradition, the fear of flogging, the religious setting of the games, a personal sense of honor – all these contributed to keep Greek athletic contests clean,” wrote Clarence A. Forbes, a professor of Classics at Ohio State University, in 1952. “And most of the thousands of contests over the centuries were clean.”
That said, ancient Greeks proved to be creative in their competitiveness. Some attempted to jinx athletes to prevent their success. According to Romano, “curse tablets could be found in athletic contexts.
For instance, strips of lead were inscribed with the curse, then folded up and placed in the floor at a critical part of the athletic facility.” continue