View Full Version : Doping for Gold

May 3rd, 2008, 11:02 AM
PBS series Secrets of the Dead will have an epsiode about female German athletes who are now 'paying the price'. The little blurb I just saw showed swimmer. Thought some of you might be interested. It will air on Wednesday evening, in my area.


May 3rd, 2008, 11:24 AM
Here is a youtube clip http://youtube.com/watch?v=Ta70OIz_b_c

The movie wil be on PBS May 7th.

May 8th, 2008, 10:55 AM
I recorded this and watched the first half of it last night. It's very good so far. They focused on several East German swimmers, along with a volleyball player and a couple of track and field athletes.

I think some of the PBS stations will be re-running it over the weekend. You can check www.pbs.org to find your local station's schedule.

Anna Lea

May 8th, 2008, 11:03 AM
I think this is the whole program, isn't it? I watched it yesterday. Hard to believe the women didn't know they were taking something controversial at the time. I was on deck with GDR women at a meet at USC in 1983 and they sure did look beefed up on something.


May 8th, 2008, 11:14 AM
It was not only the girls who were duped by their coaches, the guys were also done in by these coaches and doctors.

In the 1970s I met some of these poor soles, they were physical wrecks.

May 8th, 2008, 12:02 PM
In Sweden there was a big Swim meet called the Swedish Swimgames in the early 80's. Lots of international swimmers were invited. My best friends father went to meet the team from East Germany and give them a ride from the Airport. He reported that everything went well and that he had met the two men and one women at the airport.

So far so good, until he looked into the starting list - there were two women and only one man! The second "man" was probably 6'3'' and had shoulders and a dark voice most of us younger guys only dreamed about!

May 8th, 2008, 12:06 PM
I think this is the whole program, isn't it? I watched it yesterday. Hard to believe the women didn't know they were taking something controversial at the time. I was on deck with GDR women at a meet at USC in 1983 and they sure did look beefed up on something.


Right, it's only one episode. I just haven't finished watching it yet.

I'm not that surprised that a lot of the girls didn't know what they were taking. Remember, some of them were only 12 or 13 years old.

One of the more ironic things was the part about the swimmer who ended up having to drop out of the sport. She couldn't understand why she was gaining so much weight (yet swimming faster). She ended up developing an eating disorder (trying to counteract the weight gain, I assume) and they dropped her from the team.

It was also interesting that the scientists and doctors knew that these drugs could be very bad for a developing fetus, so they automatically put all of the female athletes on birth control pills starting at about age 12.

May 8th, 2008, 12:27 PM
Some of the Russian women at the 1956 Olympics were male look alikes. It was not only in swimming but all sports.

May 8th, 2008, 08:16 PM
I...Hard to believe the women didn't know they were taking something controversial at the time...

Steroids were very new at the time. If your daughter came home from some sort of long-term training program with a deep voice, dramatically bigger muscles, and some facial hair, you'd immediately guess she was on anabolic steroids, because nowadays everyone knows about them and what the signs are. Back then, most people had never heard of them and only knew that something was a bit off, but not why.
Because these drugs were administered by doctors, who were trusted and revered a lot more years ago than they are now, people probably assumed it was okay. Medical supervision would have equaled legal and safe in their minds. The fact that it was openly mandated by the government would have also made it seem legitimate. As one person pointed out, steroid use in the west has mostly been a clandestine thing. Not so in East Germany.
Of course, in the program one former athlete mentioned a team-mate who did start asking questions and was promptly thrown off the team. Stazi informers were everywhere (most coaches were Stazi) so athletes were very careful of what they said.
I got the impression that these doctors were experimenting on these young athletes and didn't really know what the long term effects were going to be. Some of the body changes on young women seemed to take them by surprise.

May 8th, 2008, 08:44 PM
Anabolic Steroids have been around since 1930. They had been used for years.

My Doctor offered them to me in 1953. All the weight lifters and football players were using them for years. They certainly were not new in the 60s and 70s. We knew others were using them and just because I refused to take them it does not mean others did not take them. The little pills they offered me were little round red ones. They were in liquid form by the time East Germans stuffed there athletes.

They used to say they were giving them Vitamins. I saw many athletes in the 50s who said they were injecting Vitamin B. Who knows what they were using.

May 8th, 2008, 10:54 PM
I found it very sad that the East German swimmer couldn't admit to the American swimmer that her (East German) win was due to doping. I guess in her mind they really didn't do anything wrong. AND, in a way she is right, the athletes didn't do anything wrong, it was the coaches and directors of the sports teams, doctors, etc.


May 9th, 2008, 12:03 AM
Doping History

Drugs have been used to enhance sporting performance for more than 2000 years. Performance-enhancing drugs are illegal, so athletes who use them are cheats. And, given the health risks associated with drug abuse, we can safely say that the race to beat the drug tests is a race nobody wins. The first recorded death from the use of doping in sport was in 1886 when a cyclist died from an overdose of trimethyl. In 1904 Olympics marathon runner Thomas Hicks was using a mixture of brandy and strychnine and nearly died. Heroin, cocaine, and caffeine were used widely used until heroin and cocaine became available only on prescription. During the 1930's it was Amphetamines that replaced strychnine. In the 1950s the Soviet Olympic team used male hormones to increase strength and power. During the 1970's anabolic steroids became the form of doping. By the 1980's, as non-athletes also discovered the body enhancing properties of steroids. During the 1988 Summer Olympics Ben Johnson shattered the world record in the 100-meter dash. His medal was stripped the day after when he tested for anabolic steroids in a post-race drug screening. The 1998 Tour de France in was hit by the worst drugs scandal in its history. The Top Flight Festina team was thrown out of the Tour after the team masseur Willy Voet was arrested when performance-enhancing drugs where found in his team car. In the end, one third of all teams in the race either withdrew or were expelled because of illegal drug abuse.