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Notable drug scandals

Doping & drug infractions that rocked the sports world

July 27, 2006
Barbara Krause
Swimmer Barbara Krause was one of several athletes exposed to an elaborate East German doping regime. (AFP/Getty Images)

East Germany's Olympic 'miracle'

How does a country of fewer than 17 million people double its Olympic output from 20 to 40 gold medals in just four years? Drugs, and plenty of 'em.

The East Germans became a sporting powerhouse in the 1970s and '80s, rivalling the much larger United States and Soviet Union. Thousands of East German athletes were given performance-enhancing steroids in an effort to prove East German superiority over the West. Many athletes thought they were simply taking vitamins.

The special pills worked. East Germans were a mighty force in amateur sport, particularly in the pool.

But with the medals and titles came the negative health side effects, such as liver cancer, organ damage, psychological defects, hormonal changes and infertility.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, many athletes came forward to tell how they were given frequent doses of pills and needles of unknown substances.

Kornelia Ender, Barbara Krause and Carola Nitschke were three of those swimmers exposed to the doping regime.

Ender, who won four gold and four silver medals at the 1972 and 1976 Olympics, revealed she started receiving injections at the age of 13.

Krause, a three-time Olympic gold medallist and eight-time world record holder, was forced out of the 1976 Olympics because team doctors had miscalculated her dose of drugs and worried she might test positive at the Games.

Nitschke was also 13 when doctors started giving her the anabolic steroid Oral-Turinabol and injections of the male hormone testosterone. In 1998, she became the first doped athlete to return her medals and ask that her name be removed from the record books.

A German court later found the late ex-East German sports boss Manfred Ewald and his medical director, Manfred Hoeppner, culpable for what it called "systematic and overall doping in (East German) competitive sports" until the fall of the Berlin Wall.

They were given suspended jail sentences and handed minimal fines.

The German government set up a $2.18 million US fund for any doped athlete who wished to file a claim to get some of their medical bills paid for.

Just 197 athletes filed applications by the March 2003 deadline, far fewer than expected. Each athlete will get less than $10,000, small compensation for years of exposure to dangerous doses of drugs.

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