The Sad Legacy of East German Doping

People Look Over Barb Wire at Berlin Wall

Last post I discussed the rise of positive doping tests in the aquatics world (here), echoing the terrible doping decades of the 70s, 80s and 90s. Also, last week, Swimming World published an excellent article (here) about the problems and politics with the testing process. With this post I’d like to close out this unintended trilogy with some scary statistics about the disturbing health problems encountered by dopers, and particularly the notorious East German doping program.

Between 1968 and 1988, East Germany won as astonishing 409 Summer Olympics medals, and that didn’t include the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles where they were part of the Soviet bloc boycott. In fact, they had the second highest medal total in 3 of those 5 Olympics, and were never worse than 5th. If we only count swimming, they had the highest medal count in the 1988 and 1980 (Western boycott), and never finished lower than 3rd. Not bad for a population of 19 million at its highest.

Virtually none of their athletes tested positive at the Olympics, or any other international competition. However, rumours were rampant as to how they achieved this incredible performance. A few defecting athletes eventually managed to give us a very good picture of how: State Plan 14.25. This plan, as we found out when files were made public in 1993, started roughly in 1965 and was administered by the state secret police, Stasi. It involved at its peak up to 1500 scientists and doctors in what Manfred Ewald, head of GDR’s sports federation, later described as state-imposed blanket doping. Children were tested in school, and those with athletic ability were put into sports schools, where doping was mandatory and administered to children as young as 10.

The drug of choice was Oral Turinabol, the same anabolic steroid that Russian …read more

Source: Rick’s Blog