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A DIRTY SYSTEM
The German magazine Stern reported recently that it had obtained proof of anabolic steroid use by many of East Germany's most celebrated athletes. The magazine, which based its story on documents it purchased from Dr. Manfred H�ppner, who was deputy director of East Germany's Sports Medical Service, said that the use of performance-enhancing substances had been encouraged and facilitated by coaches, sports-federation administrators and high-level government officials.
The documents, which Stern claims to have, allegedly detail the doping regimens of hundreds of athletes and indicate that East German officials eschewed "the-more-the-better" approach to drugs. "[The use of] 'supporting means' [as drugs were euphemistically called] was painstakingly honed and tinkered with," the story said. "Scientific teams...analyzed all aspects of the effects of anabolic steroids."
Strict limits on the quantity of each drug an athlete could use in a year were recommended: Men were not to take more than 1,500 milligrams per year of Oral-Turinabol (OT), women not more than 1,000 milligrams. Stern further said that other drugs, such as Vasopressin (which may facilitate an athlete's recovery from training) and Piracetam (which may increase endurance and enhance concentration), were tried on rats and then on athletes.
According to Stern, the documents indicate that:
?During 1981, when she was 16, long jumper Heike Drechsler took 650 milligrams of OT. Her dosage was increased to 705 milligrams in '82 and 835 in '83. Drechsler, who had jumped 21'9�" in '80, improved to 23'5�" by '83, when she became the youngest winner at the inaugural World Championships.
?While training in Italy in the spring of 1989, Ulf Timmermann, the Olympic shot put champion, started by taking 10 milligrams of OT per day. He increased his dosage to 15 milligrams and finally to 20 by the end of his stay.
?Ten days before her first event at the 1989 European swimming championships, Kristin Otto, who had won six gold medals at the Seoul Olympics, went for a routine precompetition drug test in East Germany. It revealed her testosterone to be three times the acceptable level. Officials, calculating that her testosterone would decrease to an acceptable level by the time of competition, allowed her to go to the championships, where she won the 100-meter backstroke and passed her drug test.
Other East German athletes whose supposed use of supporting means is laid out in detail in the magazine are Torsten Voss and Christian Schenk, the world and Olympic decathlon champions, respectively; and Olympic discus champion J�rgen Schult. All the athletes named in the story denied using steroids, but a lesser-known East German athlete, swimmer Raik Hannemann, wrote in the newspaper Berliner Kurier am Abend last week, "We were all swallowing. I experimented with several substances because I was eager to receive privileges such as an apartment, admission to a university and a car."
After publication of Stern's story, the sports federation of the recently united Germany held an emergency meeting and announced creation of an independent commission to investigate the charges. Whatever its findings, East Germans were certainly not alone in using steroids. Last month Neue Kronen Zeitung, a newspaper in Vienna, reported that 24 Austrian athletes, most of them bodybuilders, had tested positive for steroids in the past year. A sports official in the U.S.S.R. disclosed last week that 49 Soviet athletes in a variety of sports had tested positive for banned substances this year. And, of course, many others have also tested positive, including Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson and, more recently, two U.S. world-record holders, shot-putter Randy Barnes and 400-meter runner Butch Reynolds.