(Updates with report’s release, adds details)
By Karolos Grohmann
BERLIN (Reuters) – A report on doping in German sport since the 1950s, kept under wraps for months, was released on Monday and highlighted details of systematic use of banned substances over decades.
The report describes West Germany as organising and experimenting with doping in sports since the 1950s, much like its East German neighbour, using sports politics and medicine to support the research.
It also raises questions about whether some German footballers “towards the end” of the 1966 World Cup in England were clean as, 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.
The report says: “The until now unknown letter from FIFA official Dr Mihailo Andrejevic informs the president of the German athletics federation, Dr Max Danz, that in doping tests conducted by FIFA at the end of the 1966 World Cup, three players of the German team had ‘slight traces’ of ephedrine.”
FIFA said last year, when the issue surfaced, that it had no knowledge of the letter.
Commissioned by the Federal Institute and prepared by Berlin’s Humboldt University and the University of Muenster, the report into German doping says athletes of many sports were knowingly given performance-enhancing substances.
“The Interior Ministry has a strong interest in a complete clarification and assessment of the history of doping,” ministry spokesman Philipp Spauschus told a news conference shortly before the report was made public.
“The Federal Institute for Sport Sciences will today publish the researchers’ final report… on its website and then the Federal Institute for Sport Sciences will do a specialist assessment and then there will also be a political assessment.”
The report was completed in April but its content had previously not been officially made public.
The report says that 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.
Any 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.
‘FIGHTER PILOT CHOCOLATE’
The report also said doping was not limited to one or two sports but many different athletes had used banned substances, with football players being given amphetamine, or “fighter pilot chocolate”, as early as 1949.
Before and even after the two nations reunified in 1990, East Germany was seen as a country that used state-run doping at the height of the Cold War to amplify its position in the world through its successes in sport.
West Germany, on the other hand, was never suspected of systematic state-backed doping but rather seen as a country with individual doping cases.
The report quotes a senior sports federation official in the early 1990s as saying: “Coaches always told me that if you don’t take anything then you will not become something. Anyone who became something was taking it (testosterone).”
Thomas Bach, president of the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB), who is also running for the presidency of the International Olympic Committee, said on Monday: “This is a good day for the fight against doping.
“A commission will now evaluate the report and give recommendations with regard to the tasks as well as about the future improvements of the fight against doping.
“I am confident we can reach our goals to have full knowledge about the past and to learn the lessons for the future. This will strengthen our zero tolerance policy against doping.”
Spauschus said Germany takes the fight against doping seriously.
“Combating doping is, of course, primarily the sport industry’s responsibility, but the German government supports it to the extent that this falls within its responsibility and campaigns for clean sport that is free of manipulation and uses taxpayers’ money for this purpose,” he said.
“We support the national anti-doping agency, for example, and are providing it with around 3.5 million euros in 2013 alone.
“We certainly take the issue very seriously and the federal government primarily supports the fight against doping by providing financial means.”
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, additional reporting by Michelle Martin in Berlin; editing by Clare Fallon and Stephen Wood)