The trial should further lay open one of the most sordid chapters in the history of sports, one that started in the late 1960s and continued until the Wall fell in 1989. Some experts believe that as many as 10,000 East German athletes were doped over the years, many unknowingly, since their coaches were told to keep the practice secret.
Many female athletes were rendered infertile by the drugs or developed horrific deformities, such as fingerlong clitorises. Heidi Krieger, the 1986 European shot put champion, says she was given so many male hormones that she eventually began feeling like a man and changed her sex. She is now Andreas Krieger. Many male athletes, who were given anabolic steroids, were left with enlarged breasts.
This horror show went on for decades, yet there developed in Germany what one prosecutor called "a wall of silence" about the consequences of the doping that to some degree persists. "One could almost get the impression that there are no victims," says Giselher Spitzer, assistant professor of sports history at the University of Pots-dam. "If we weren't talking about such terrible fates, it would be funny."
Heat from the Mailman
Totin' Talk Was Off Target
Some say the Mailman went a little postal last week when, a couple of days after receiving a phoned-in death threat before a March 6 road game against the New Jersey Nets, he declared, "From now on, I'll be packing." Karl Malone, who has a permit to carry a concealed weapon in Utah, said he hadn't taken a gun to Detroit and Minnesota, where his Utah Jazz had played road games since his pronouncement, but he hasn't backed off his vow.
Never mind the passel of permits he would need to carry a concealed weapon legally from state to state; Malone's threat makes no sense. "He'll get himself killed or kill someone," says the Portland Trail Blazers' J.R. Rider, that noted practitioner of restrained behavior. "Big bad Karl...I think Karl is ridiculous." Wow, hearing Rider suggest you're a little wacko would give anyone pause.
Malone's shooting off his mouth raised anew the issues of security and of athletes' carrying guns, both of which make the NBA office squirm. The league's official position is that the security provided for players at NBA arenas (the joint responsibility of the league, the arena and the teams) is more than adequate. David Stern and Co. certainly don't want their players packing heat, a position that was explained to Malone in a call from the league office. And it is one backed by the players' union. "If a player insists on getting a gun, we inform him of licensing regulations," says Robert Gadson, director of security for the union, "but we don't advocate possession of firearms."
Rightly so. NBA teams travel by charter flight and take private buses to and from hotels and arenas. Most of the top players travel with at least one security guard paid by the team or by the player. Still, basketball players, particularly superstars like Malone, feel that they are tire most vulnerable of all pro athletes. Their relatively small traveling parties don't suggest impenetrable regiments, as baseball's and football's do. The intimacy of their game makes them, they believe, inviting targets for loonies. "I'd give all the players guns," says one player's security guard, who asked to remain anonymous. "People do anything to get in the players' inner circle. There are a lot of fatal attractions out there."
But does that mean a player needs to carry? The truth is, there will always be idiotic tans doing idiotic things. Indiana Pacers coach Larry Bird says he received dozens of threats over the years as a player and eventually stopped paying attention to them. Even a pistol-packin' papa like Charles Barkley, who keeps a firearm at home and who in 1988 was busted for carrying a licensed handgun across state lines in his car, says an athlete shouldn't travel with a gun. "You have to trust the security on the road," says Barkley. "Anybody who wants to get you is going to get you."
The Wheat(ies) and the Chaff