Pursuit Race Riders
July 26, 2021 11:48 PM   Subscribe

What percentage of pursuit race riders from 1900-1929 were heroin addicts?, or, who would you hire to find out the answer to that question? My first thought was research librarian. If research librarian is correct; Is there a way to hire a reputable research librarian per question?
posted by oldnumberseven to Writing & Language (1 answer total)
 
Best answer: I'm a little dubious that this can be answered with any degree of precision. For one thing, attitudes towards heroin use changed very dramatically during the time period you mention (in the US it went from being an over the counter drug in 1900 to a controlled substance in 1914 to banned in 1924), and presumably ideas about what "heroin addiction" means changed as well.

But! There is a ton of research/many papers about the history of doping in sports (and in cycling specifically) and a librarian (ideally at a university or large public library) should be able to find you some articles/books/book chapters on this topic*, though these might not answer your exact question precisely.

If you can't find a secondary source that answers your question, this becomes a real research question that would require consulting primary sources, etc., in which case you'll need to spend some time defining your question - you'll need to pick a definition of who counts as a "heroin addict" (vs. an occasional user) and decide what kind of evidence you'll accept/require to decide whether someone was an addict. You'll even have to decide who counts as a "pursuit race rider" (is it anyone who ever participated in a pursuit race? people who ranked in the top X finishers? what counts as a pursuit race?). To get a proper answer to your question you would probably want to work with someone who specializes in this area (e.g. a sports historian?).

* Here's an article that doesn't have a lot of detail about opiate use by cyclists, but it cites some useful-looking books and articles that you could track down with the help of a librarian: Drug abuse in athletes.
posted by mskyle at 6:15 AM on July 27, 2021 [3 favorites]


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