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Football’s first steroids team. That’s what ESPN.com is calling the 1963 Chargers team in a story exploring the famed team’s experimentation with steroids.

For more than 40 years, the story of the 1963 Chargers has been as follows: They endured a comically hellish training camp, romped through the American Football League regular season behind a legendary offensive line, enjoyed the glorious play of wide receiver Lance Alworth, and won the AFL championship 51-10 over the Boston Patriots.

It is the only professional championship San Diego has ever celebrated.

But steroids have come under the glare of public scrutiny over the past 20 years, and some of that light has filtered back to the beginning. The story of the ’63 Chargers needs to be revised.

Memories are hazy and accounts differ, but this much is clear: For at least four or five weeks during training camp in 1963, the Chargers handed 5 mg of Dianabol to their players three times a day. After a team meeting before the start of the regular season, at which Mix raised objections, the pills were no longer mandatory, but they remained readily available for at least two seasons. And according to documents filed in a later lawsuit, Chargers team physicians continued to write Dianabol prescriptions for some players from 1965 until at least 1970, although the players who spoke to ESPN denied knowing about it at the time.

ANDREW DONOHUE

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