Report exposes decades of West German doping

The West German government helped fund a wide-scale doping programme from the 1970s onwards, with evidence of drug use among the country’s athletes stretching back to the 1950s, according to a leaked report seen by German media.


Politicians in Germany have demanded the full publication of a report that claims doping was rife among West German athletes from the 1970s onwards and possibly for decades before.

The report, from researchers at Berlin’s Humboldt University and entitled Doping in Germany from 1950 to Today, claims that state-funded doping of sportsmen was common in a number of fields, including athletics and football.

Included in the report, which was compiled after three years of research, are testimonies from more than 50 witnesses. But its publication has so far been held back by legal issues surrounding the revealing of the names of those involved.

However, a version of the 800-page dossier, dating from 2012, was seen by German daily Suddeutsche Zeitung, which published extracts in an article Sunday.

According to the newspaper, the report claims that systematic doping of West German athletes took place from October 1970 with the creation of the Institute for Sport Science (BISp).

The Institute, which fell under the authority of the country’s interior ministry, used state funds to conduct “an extensive series of tests on performance enhancing substances” such as anabolic steroids, testosterone, oestrogen and EPO over a period of decades, Suddeutsche Zeitung quotes the report as saying.

Doping at Munich Olympics

Doping was prevalent at the 1972 Munich Olympics, researchers said, and at the Montreal Olympics four years later.

At the latter, German athletes were said to have received around 1,200 injections of Berolase and thioctacid - a drug cocktail nicknamed Kolbe after the great German rower Peter-Michael Kolbe.

But there is also evidence of doping taking place long before the creation of the BISp, said the report.

It claims that an unspecified number of footballers in West Germany’s 1954 World Cup-winning team were given the methamphetamine Pervitin, which had been in common use among German soldiers during World War II.

Researchers also uncovered a letter from FIFA medical committee chairman Mihailo Andrejevic which suggests traces of the banned stimulant ephedrine were found in unnamed West German players at the 1966 World Cup, in which the country reached the final before being defeated by England.

Suddeutsche said the report showed minors were also doped, with the effects of anabolic steroids allegedly tested on boys as young as 11.

The report’s findings draw uncomfortable parallels with the widespread doping of athletes that is now known to have been taking place in East Germany before the collapse of communism in 1989.

Politicians demand answers

And it seems a desire to compete with its eastern neighbour saw the West’s doping programme gain political backing, with the report citing an unidentified interior minister as having said that "our athletes are to have the same pre-conditions and terms as the eastern bloc athletes".

The allegations, particularly those that suggest the government at the time knew of the doping programme and even helped fund it, have led to calls from numerous politicians for the full findings of the report to be made public.

“I do not understand why the doping study is being further kept under wraps,” Thomas Oppermann, spokesperson for the main opposition party the Social Democrats, said in a statement. “I want to know what there is to it.”

Joachim Guenther, of Angela Merkel's junior coalition partners the Free Democrats, called for a special session of the sports committee in the Bundestag lower house of parliament to discuss the report.

"Sport must proceed under fair conditions. Therefore an extensive clarification of the incidents specified in the study is necessary," he said in a statement.

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