It probably won't ever become the focus of a hit sports movie—not even if they call it Poosiers—but "poop doping" is a real thing and could possibly give competitive cyclists an edge. That's according to microbiologist and mountain biker Lauren Petersen, who tells Bicycling magazine that after being sick for more than a decade with Lyme Disease, in 2014 she gave herself an at-home fecal transplant from somebody who happened to be another racer. Petersen says she not only felt much better after the stool transplant, she upped her training to five days a week and was winning races within months, though her experience proves correlation, not causation. "I wondered if I had gotten my microbiome from a couch potato, not a racer, if I would I be doing so well," says Petersen.
Petersen—who says the procedure was "not fun" but "pretty basic"—says she started collecting stool samples from top racers and found that a microorganism called Prevotella was found in almost all top racers but less than 10% of the general population. She is now doing more research into Prevotella, which is believed to help muscle recovery. Other experts, however, are skeptical, telling the Washington Post that it is far too early to draw conclusions—and warning that "bacterial doping" at home could be very dangerous. (Petersen herself acknowledges the risk and isn't endorsing it.) At the Big Lead blog, Tully Corcoran argues that if poop doping is what cyclists really want to do, we should "all just go ahead and let them, for crying out loud." (Researchers believe fecal transplants could also help with weight loss.)