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Original Issue

Forget The Fuss

Forget the fuss over performance-enhancing drugs. According to
The Real Olympics, a two-part documentary that compares the Games
of ancient Greece with today's, Zeus would have approved if an
athlete sought his favor by popping herbs to add zest to the
limbs. Airing on PBS on Aug. 3-4, Real Olympics uses
dramatizations of contests (enacted by sculpted, scantily clad
males) and provides myth-busting fun facts. The Olympics opened,
for instance, with the sacrificing of 100 oxen, leaving
spectators to deal with blood, smells and flies. In general, the
show's experts contend, the original Olympics had little in
common with Baron Pierre de Coubertin's late 19th-century idea of
amateur athletes competing oh-so-genteelly. The ancient Greeks,
notes one historian, "tolerated a level of violence in their
sport that would to all but the most psychopathic today be simply

--Nancy Ramsey