By Karolos Grohmann
BERLIN (Reuters) – A German report into the country’s use of banned substances since 1950 has triggered a storm of reaction and renewed calls for a national anti-doping law.
The report highlights systematic doping across many sports over decades, resembling partly the state-run doping programme in East Germany during the Cold War.
“We need a doping law in this country,” Clemens Prokop head of the country’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, commissioned by the Federal Institute for Sports Science at the request of the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB), 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 describes West Germany as using and experimenting with doping in sports since the 1950s, much like its East German neighbour.
The report, conducted by the Humboldt University and the University of Muenster, also raises questions about whether some German footballers were taking drugs at the 1966 World Cup in England 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 was completed in April but its content had previously not been officially made public.
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.
“FIGHTER PILOT CHOCOLATE”
Names are not included in the version made public on Monday, something many people, including athletes, officials and politicians, objected to.
“Names have to named. These are documents of our times and they have to be accessible by the public,” Prokop said. “The public is demanding to be fully informed.”
The report said doping was not limited to one or two sports but that 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 seen as a country that used state-run doping at the height of the Cold War to beef up 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 was seen 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.
“What I am shocked about is that there was research conducted with what obviously was state money and that obviously many of those responsible within sport knew about it,” Prokop said.
Former high jump European indoor 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 Clare Fallon)