BERLIN (Reuters) - A German report into the country’s use of banned substances in sport since 1950 has triggered a storm and renewed calls for a national anti-doping law.
The report highlights systematic doping across many sports over decades in West Germany, resembling the state-run doping programme in East Germany during the Cold War.
“We need a doping law in this country,” Clemens Prokop, head of Germany’s athletics federation, told reporters on Tuesday. “We also need to extend the statute of limitation (for sanctions) against doping offenders past the current eight years.”
The report was commissioned by the Federal Institute for Sports Science at the request of the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB). It was published under pressure on Monday, following a leak in the media at the weekend, after it had been kept under wraps for months.
It includes details of how by the 1970s at the latest, West Germany was actively involved in experimenting with performance-enhancing drugs such as anabolic steroids, testosterone, amphetamines and EPO, financed by taxpayers’ money.
Substances seen as boosting performances were then deployed in many sports, it said. A controversial injection distributed widely to West German athletes during the 1976 Olympic Games provided the first modern, German doping affair.
The report, conducted by the Humboldt University and the University of Muenster, also raises questions about whether some West German footballers were taking drugs at the 1966 World Cup because, citing a FIFA document from the same year, three players showed traces of ephedrine. Ephedrine is used as a decongestant but also as a stimulant.
“FIGHTER PILOT CHOCOLATE”
Names were not included in the version made public on Monday, an omission objected to by many athletes, officials and politicians.
“It is a bit of a problem that there is a short version that has been published and that names have not been named,” Prokop told Reuters Television in an interview.
“There seems to be a long version and I think this should be published right now. Names have to be named so that the general suspicion regarding athletes in the 70s and 80s who got their performances legally and now are treated with doubt is lifted,” Prokop said.
The report said doping was not limited to one or two sports and many different athletes had used banned substances, with football players being given amphetamines, or “fighter pilot chocolate”, as early as 1949.
Before and even after the two nations reunified in 1990, East Germany was regarded as a country that used state-run doping to beef up its position in the Cold War world through its successes in sport.
West Germany was never suspected of systematic state-backed doping but regarded rather as a country with individual doping cases.
While much research was conducted into former East German doping practices, the reunified country was in no rush to investigate West Germany’s doping past.
“The results of this study are, at first glance, shocking. They show that in West Germany there was an alliance which promoted doping, especially the leading sport representatives, and that the research was backed by the state,” Prokop told Reuters.
Former European indoor high jump champion Carlo Thraenhardt, who competed for West Germany in the 1970s and 1980s, said of the report: ”First of all I am surprised and frustrated in a way because you want to fight doping. I would make sanctions much stricter than now.
”At the end of the day it is corruption what these people are doing.
“There were rumours,” he told Reuters TV. “We were aware that in the then-GDR there was blanket doping. All this was later confirmed.”
Additonal reporting by Christine Soukenka in Munich; Editing by Robert Woodward