behind the Berlin Wall, a state doping program of RDA athletes

The GDR, in search of identity, had made sport an ideological propaganda machine. To make the GDR a major nation, the East German leaders will decide, without qualms, to cheat by setting up, in all discretion, an institutionalized doping program, called Plan of State 14-25.

November 9, 1989 – November 9, 2019: This is Saturday the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. A considerable political and diplomatic upheaval, but not only. The sport is not spared. The secret files of the Stasi, the political police, reveal that the East German leaders, shamelessly, had used sport for political and ideological purposes and that to display and assert some form of superiority, they had set up a State doping without the athletes noticing.

The report of Fabrice Abgrall

From 1972 to 1988, the anthem of the Democratic Republic of Germany sounded 144 times in the various cities that organized the Summer Olympics during this period, apart from those in Los Angeles where the GDR was absent for cause of boycott. A total of 144 gold medals plus 120 silver medals and 120 bronze medals, for a total of 384 podiums. At the time, this huge record made East Germany the third largest sporting power behind the United States and the Soviet Union. The GDR, in search of identity, had made sport an ideological propaganda machine.

The East German leaders wanted to demonstrate, through sport, the superiority of the socialist camp over the capitalist camp “Jean-Baptiste Guegan, specialist in Sport Geopoliticsat franceinfo

“The first ambition was to unite and show the strength of socialism within the new state that was created, and then there was the obligation to stand out from the big western neighbor. -German, explains Jean-Baptiste Guegan, specialist in Geopolitics of Sport. Athletes in particular served as both sports ambassadors and diplomats in tracksuits. And the sport served to create both a sense of pride, to unify the GDR and to show abroad that this country counted. “

It had to succeed at any cost, even bypass and break the rules. To make the GDR a major nation, the East German leaders will decide, without qualms, to cheat by setting up, in all discretion, an institutionalized doping program, called “Plan of State 14-25 “. The Ministry of Sports controlled and financed doping. There was also a scientific research section responsible for developing the best substances. Turinabol, an anabolic steroid, was the most used product. The most promising athletes were unknowingly doped at an early age.

Swimmer Jutta Gottschalk testified in a documentary entitled “GDR: The ravages of state doping”: “We were given a cup at the edge of the pool with 10, 15, sometimes 20 tablets of different colors.” I sincerely believed that it was vitamins that helped us not to get sick and to endure the training. they wanted our good … They only wanted the good of the state. ” Civil servants, doctors, and coaches did not allow one another. Everything was good to make athletes win machines.

Sometimes we were given infusions, twice a year electroshock on the arms and legs, it was at the limit of the bearable.Jutta GottschalkExtract from the documentary “GDR: the ravages of state doping”

Athletes from the former GDR felt invulnerable, competing and training. Ina Gauter felt that nothing could happen to her. That's what she explains in the documentary State Plan 14-25 : “I was jumping on the ice with a great taste for risk, sometimes going up in the air, sometimes I hit my head violently, rubbing a bit and going on despite a bump. huge”, she recalls.

In total, 10,000 East German athletes have been subjected to this doping program. For some, the consequences have been dramatic. And the considerable psychological and physical damage. After their career, athletes developed cancers, cardiovascular diseases and liver failure. Birgitt Boese was an athlete specializing in shot put. “After my wedding I wanted to have a child but nothing happened, I could not get pregnant, so I consulted a gynecologist, diagnosed that at 24 I had genitalia 11 year old girl “, she testifies in the documentary State Plan 14-25. Jutta Gottschalk also found that her body was not that of a teenager. “My muscles practically exploded, my lower back widened, it was terrible, I had almost no breasts and I did not have my period until I was 18 and it was not normal“she explains.

But of all the East German athletes, the most scary case is Heidi Krieger. The European champion in shot put in 1986 used growth hormones. She had to undergo surgery to change sex. Heidi Krieger has been called Andreas Krieger since 1997.

I was deprived of the opportunity to decide for myself about my biological development. I am transsexual and these hormones have turned my identity towards the masculine. I did not control anything anymore.Andreas KriegerExtract of the documentary “State Plan 14-25”

Andreas Krieger has since returned his medal and asked that his personal best be erased from the shelves. Today, however, three world records are held by athletes from the former GDR, including the 400 meters set by Marita Koch and the record held by Gabriele Reinsch. In July 2000, Manfred Ewald and Manfred Höppner were sentenced respectively to 22 and 18 months of suspended sentences. They were convicted of bodily injury by complicity.

>> “GDR: The ravages of state doping”, excerpt from the documentary “Sport, the other side of the coin”, a film directed and written by Xavier Deleu and Yonathan Kellerman – 2014

>> “State Plan 14-25”, a documentary by Sarah Eichhoff co-written with Maxime Boilon – 2004


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