Judges became suspicious after the ageing and visibly out of condition sailor underwent a remarkable transformation moments into the competition, after ingesting a large quantity of what he later claimed was spinach in a pause between lifts.
One judge commented, ‘It was incredible – the guy ate a whole tin of this green substance – through a pipe – in about two seconds, and went on to lift almost eight times his own bodyweight in the next round. I mean, we almost ran out of weights – he was just balancing them on his finger like a bread-stick. The idea that a chain smoking, 55 year old sailor could give that kind of performance unaided simply defies belief.’
Meanwhile, spectators reported seeing visible bulges in the competitor’s muscles emerge immediately after he consumed the substance. One IOC official said: ‘We have taken a sample of the substance away for testing. Spinach does not have this effect on the human body – whatever it was clearly contained a vast quantity of steroids and amphetamines. To be honest it’s incredible that this guy is still standing given the cocktail of stimulants he consumed. No wonder he’s stuttering – this stuff can really mess with your head.’
Popeye himself denied all wrongdoing, although was largely incoherent during subsequent interviews, only commenting cryptically: ‘I’m strong to the finish, ’cause I eats me Spinach, I’m Popeye the sailor man! A-gah-gah-gah-gah-gah-gah!’
The media was ready to pounce, but all this was forgotten, however, as Popeye’s friend and training companion Bluto won gold in the rhythmic gymnastics.