We like to think that we live in a liberal and modern society, but sometimes that image is shattered. The heavy stigma on drugs and doping wasn't always there. In fact, around the turn of the 20th century, doping in bicycle racing was seen as par for the course.
Belgian historian and cycling expert Jan Boesman specialized in cycling around the 'fin de siècle': the transition from nineteenth to twentieth century. Miracle doctors such as Choppy Warburton kept cyclists in the race with mysterious stimulating substances. Without their powders and concoctions, it it would have likely been impossible to finish a course such as Bordeaux - Paris. Newspapers were also filled with advertisements for uppers.
Several quotes from the interview with Boesman: "The term doping didn't even exist back then; there were no rules or guidelines. It was perfectly normal to use stimulants, even necessary to finish the race."
"There was no taboo on those substances, only a taboo on feeling tired. Fatigue needed to be conquered. With regular coffee, kola nut, which contains more caffeine than coffee, and cocaine, which hadn't been outlawed at that time."
Listen to the entire interview (Dutch) with the link below.