The Origins of Doping, a Chapter from Spitting in the Soup

The morning of August 30, 1904, dawned hot and humid in St. Louis, Missouri. The United States was hosting its first Olympic Games, and it was as if an oppressive blanket had been lowered over the Missis­sippi River town for a signature event, the marathon. Fourteen miles into the race, runner Charles Hicks—British-born but representing the United States—doubled over on the side of a road in what a reporter called “sweltering heat and clouds of dust.”

The Hot Roman Day When Doping Became Bad

In one day, public perception of doping changed from a professional expectation to a dangerous, bad practice. Why? It was shoddy medical records and sloppy media coverage of a cyclist’s death by heatstroke at the 1960 Rome Olympics.

Supplements: Government-Approved Dope, a Chapter from Spitting in the Soup

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Half of Americans take dietary supplements, yet the industry is protected from federal food and drug safety regulation by Sen. Orrin Hatch and others despite studies that show supplements are often mislabeled or tainted with huge doses of doping agents. The U.S. Olympic Committee was caught up in this soup during the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games.

Red Kite Prayer Offers This 2-Part Interview of Author Mark Johnson


Argyle Armada author Mark Johnson has spent the last two years researching and writing a comprehensive look at doping, called “Spitting in the Soup,” published by VeloPress. Red Kite Prayer has been hearing about this book for a good year and has eagerly awaited its release.

Moral Drift and the American Way, a Chapter from Spitting in the Soup


The amateur ethos that still informs the Olympic sports runs counter to the very nature of sport, which demands high performance. The increasing commercialization of sports intensifies this tension—and the insidious temptation of corruption. The spirit of sport is a recent WADA invention, not an inherent quality of sport—but it’s still worth the aspiration.