By Stan Greenberg
Last updated 2011-03-03
The notorious end to the 1908 marathon (pictured above), had officials helping Dorando Pietri of Italy over the finish line. This contravention of the rules led to his disqualification. He had entered the stadium in a near state of collapse, and, indeed, fell down five times on the last lap of the track.
It has always been stated that the high temperature (78°F) of the day, allied to his strenuous exertions during the last few miles of the race, caused his sorry state. However, recently there has been the suggestion that perhaps the main cause of his distress was the little Italian’s habit of gargling with wine during the race, which did not go well with the heat. After a protest by the American team, the second finisher, Johnny Hayes, was awarded the gold medal.