Anecdotes of sports medicine - Hellmann-Beyer-Arbeit

The 14th edition of the Limburg Congress for Sports Medicine in November 1995 included 'High-risk sports and high-risk athletes' as subject. For the round table 'Mental support for top athletes' I invited Martina Hellmann and Udo Beyer, two top athletes from the former GDR. The speech of Hellmann was 'entitled Streßanforderungen und Streßbewältigung im Hochleistungssport - Ausdruck der Persönlichkeit des Athleten' (free translation 'Stress requirements and stress management in high performance sports - expression of the athlete's personality'), that of Beyer "Die Zeit nach den Siegen - Psychologische Betrachtungen zur Zeit nach Beendigung der sportlichen Laufbahn" (free translation 'The time after the victories - Psychological considerations at the time of completion of the athletic career').



Discus throwster Martina Hellmann (1960-) was Olympic champion, two times world champion and three times East German champion. She deliberately chose discus throwing because in her own words, she did not want to become a 'big, fat shot putter'. In 1977 she made her first success, with a 55m00 throw she improved the world record for 16-year olds. In 1983 she won gold at the very first World Championship in Helsinki. Because of the East German boycott she could not participate in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. In 1987 she extended her world title in Rome and one year later she threw the discus 78m14. The furthest throw ever, but because it happened during an unofficial training camp, the performance was not recognized as a world record. The crown on her work came with the gold at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul. Four years later in Barcelona she failed to qualify for the finals and she ended her sporting career. She became manager of the sports association of health insurance company Allgemeine Ortskrankenkasse, which she combined with a manager function of a cabaret in Leipzig.

Udo Beyer (1956-) was Olympic champion shot put, two times European champion and eleven times East German champion. He improved the world record three times and participated in four Olympic Games. He achieved his first international success in 1973 when he became European Junior Champion with a throw of 19m65. At the 1976 Games in Munich he won gold with 21m05, four years later in Moscow he won bronze. Beyer was sports instructor at the GDR army, after the German wall fell he joined the German Bundeswehr. Afterwards, reports from the DDR archive revealed that Beyer received high doses of Oral-Turinabol in 1983 and 1984. He resigned from the army and opened a travel agency in Potsdam.

To my great surprise, Ekkart Arbeit (1941-) contacted me a few weeks before the congress and asked me whether he could also give a lecture. The trainer from the former GDR had coached many successful athletes and would discuss the theme 'Die psychologische Dimension der Spitzenleistung' (free translation 'The psychological scope of top performances'). The evening before the conference, I went to dinner with the four of them (because Arbeit had brought his wife) in a well-known restaurant. Funny to report is that the served portions were largely insufficient for Udo Beyer, a 130kg heavy and 1m94 high colossus, and after dinner he went to a chip shop to eat a solid portion of mussels with chips. During dinner, I noticed that Arbeit silenced his wife several times when she wanted to have a conversation with one of the other table guests.

Only years later it became clear to me that Ekkart Arbeit was not a man with an impeccable reputation and that he probably had invited himself to listen to what the two former DDR athletes had to say.

When the South African athletics association hired him in 2002 as a 'coach consultant', many negative stories about him appeared in the German and Anglo-Saxon press. As a sports scientist, Arbeit had collaborated on the infamous East German anabolics program and also delivered thousands of pages of reports to the Stasi. At that secret service Arbeit was known as Claus Tisch.

Between 1969 and 1989, he spied on athletes, coaches, doctors, friends and colleagues. He told on all athletes who did not take their obligatory dose of hormones. Through his espionage, he also liquidated discus thrower Karin Illgen (1941-), simply because she had been eating an ice cream with a foreigner. He did not know for sure, but nevertheless he suspected that she also had sexual contact with the man and with that her sport career was finished. In 1975 he reported Dagmar Weber, the doctor from Rostock had ethical objections to providing steroids to athletes because of the serious side effects. The Stasi made sure she could no longer work in sports centers.

Arbeit also spied in his leisure time. He roamed around hotels that were visited by Westerners and dissidents and tattled on athletes who were in contact with the West.

With the support of John Coates (1950-), boss of the Australian Olympic Committee, Arbeit was haulded in by the Australian athletics federation in 1997. The rumors that he was involved in the East German doping program were dismissed by Coates as nonsense. The questioners should remember that Arbeit brought 'a systematic and scientific sporting knowledge', orated Coates

For years it had been buzzing with rumors about Arbeit's involvement in doping. For the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee and Athletics SA chief executive Banele Sindani (1955-2015) that was no reason not to hire him, since the East German doping progam was never proven. The South African 'Sunday Times' was looking for the German doping researcher Werner Francke (1940-) who knew all too well about Arbeit. According to Francke, Arbeit played an important role in the doping program. Maybe he did not administer hormones himself, but he did control the program. The veto of the athletes themselves made sure that Arbeit could not get to work in South Africa.

In 2003 he moved to Iraq, where he had to 'prepare' the national team for the 2004 Games.

In April 2004 Denise Lewis (1972-), the British Olympic champion heptathlon, took him in, because he was the right person to improve her condition and her throwing technique. Frank Dick, coach of Lewis and friend of Arbeit, defended that choice to the journalist of 'The Guardian'. Lewis did not see any ethical problems working with a Stasi spy, coach Dick knew.

"Arbeit has never been found guilty by German judges."

That's right, because under German law only the person that actually provided or administered the medicines is guilty, and Arbeit never gave an injection.


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