Doping and sports - 1972


The first doping lab was established at the Sporthochschule Köln (German Sport University Cologne) under the leadership of Manfred Donike (1933-1995).

In June 1972 an article appeared in the German newspaper 'Bild' in which a journalist wondered:

"A massive figure, a beard and a deep voice, is that the last resort for Western top athletes if they want to win an Olympic medal?"

In the 1930s, Scandinavian runners received a transfusion of their own blood to increase the number of blood cells. In 1972, Dr. Björn Ekblom, an exercise physiologist at the Sports and Gymnastics Institute in Stockholm, discovered that a blood transfusion increases oxygen uptake by 9% and that athletic potential increases by 23%. He is the inventor of blood packing, a blood sample that was followed by increasing the concentration of red blood cells in a centrifuge and afterwards all this is returned to the 'owner' via a transfusion.

American Football

Rumors demanded that some coaches in the American Alabama high school advised their football players to use Dianabol to gain weight.

The first systematic evaluation of the incidence of amphetamine use in American professional football revealed that more than half of the players used the doping product. George Burman (1942-), active in the 1960s with three different NFL teams, estimated that 30% of the players were on drugs. An interview with 87 players from eleven NFL teams revealed that 60% of the players 'sometimes' and more than 50% 'regularly' took amphetamines. The study also showed a position-related dose. Quarterbacks or wide receivers used relatively low doses to increase their energy and improve their 'creative performance', while defensive linesman took the highest doses to induce a sense of fearlessness or paranoid anger. The use of amphetamine in professional football was relatively open, and in some teams a cookie jar with several types of amphetamines passed before the game.

Cocaine use was another chronic problem among NFL players. Carl Eller (1942-), linesman of the Minnesota Vikings, estimated that 40% of the players snorted regularly.


In August 1972 Hansjörg Kofink (1938-), the trainer of the West German shot puters, wrote an open letter to his Olympic Committee:

"From 1963 to 1969 there were an explosive series of improvements in the world record by the East German Margitta Gummel (1941-) and the Russian Nadezhda Chizhova (1945-) in the shot put, and the development on the next twenty places of the world rankings did not keep up with this progress. On the basis of my experiences since 1970 during my trainers' activities and the related international contacts, it is clear to me that this development is unthinkable without anabolics or other similarly functioning means. the GDR and Russia the phase of experimenting with these substances is long gone and they presumably work with better (= more compatible) resources, while in the rest of Eastern Europe the phase of experimenting is taking place in view of the Munich Games ."


Belgian rider Pierre Bellemans (1949-1972), who signed a professional contract with the Italian team SCIC after the WC in Mendrisio, died suddenly. He made the whole preparation of the Belgian amateur team which was surprisingly world champion on the 100km time trial. Ludo Vanderlinden (1951-1983), Louis Verreydt (1950-1977), Staf Hermans (1951-) and Staf Van Cauter (1948-) beated the Dutch super favorites with more than 1min30. Freddy Maertens (1952-) and Marc Demeyer (1950-1982) also took part in the preparations as a reserve. Louis Verreydt died in 1977, Marc Demeyer in 1982 and Ludo Vanderlinden in 1983. All suffered a cardiac arrest. But also Florent Van Kerckhove (1948-1972), who was initially appointed but later did not make the selection, died at the age of 24. Staf Van Cauter confessed in 1999 to the Dutch television program Netwerk that he had used anabolics and corticoids.


With seven Olympic medals, triple Olympic champion Eero Mäntyranta (1937-2013) was one of the most successful Finnish skiers ever. But he was also the first Finn to test positive for doping. After the national championship of 1972, it turned out that he had used amphetamines, but those tests were stashed away. At the Winter Olympics of that year in Sapporo, the facts came to light. At first Mäntyranta denied, but later he admitted that he had used hormones that were not yet forbidden during his sports career. Mäntyranta alledgedly suffered from primary familial and congenital polycythemia (PFCP), which causes an increase in the number of red blood cells and the associated hemoglobin. This is due to a mutation in the erythropoietin receptor (EPOR) gene, which was identified and reported in 1993 after a DNA study of more than two hundred of his family members. This condition resulted in an increase of 50% of the oxygen capacity of the blood, a huge advantage in endurance tests.