Doping and sports - 1976-Olympics

1976 Olympics

Doping tests for anabolic steroids were carried out in Montreal for the first time. In total there were 7 doping agents, of which 6 were anabolic. It is estimated that up to 90% of athletes use these drugs regularly.

Ice hockey

Czech ice hockey player František Pospíšil (1944-) tested positive for codeine, as a result of which the 7-1 victory of his team against Poland was converted into 0-1 loss.


Canadian sailor Lorne Leibel (1951-) had used the amphetamine phenylpropanolamine and was removed from the ranking.


Paul Cerutti (1910-?) from Monaco was caught using amphetamines and sent home.


During the 1976 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Russian Galina Kulakova (1942-), winner of the bronze medal and winner of 3 gold medals four years earlier in Sapporo, was disqualified after the five-kilometer race because she had used a nose spray with ephedrine. However, the Fédération Internationale de Ski nor the IOC suspended her, and she went on to won the bronze in the 10km and even gold with the relay team.


At the Olympic Games in Montréal, the East German girls won eleven individual swimming titles. The relay 4 x 100m medley also went to the GDR, only the 4 x 100m freestyle they had to leave to the United States. Later it appeared that the East German team physicians systematically administered steroids to their swimmers, without their knowing.

While the use of anabolic steroids by female strength athletes simply continued, it also spread among sprinters, middle distance runners, swimmers, rowers and in various winter sports. The Montreal Olympics were overshadowed by doping use among women. The Games produced the first positive test of a female athlete and also saw a dominant breakthrough for East German women. The suspicions were mainly due to the masculine appearance and the overwhelming performances of the GDR swimmers. When asked an East German coach why his swimmers had such a heavy voice, he answered:

"We came here to swim, not to sing"

Another obvious but forbidden method is pharmacological, chemical and physical manipulation. In plain language: to fool the doping inspectors by delivering old or someone else's urine or adding masking substances to the urine. For example, Irish swimmer Michelle Smith (1969-) would have sprinkled her pee with alcohol, making the urine sample unusable.

The great medal candidate Barbara Krause (1959-) missed the Games of Montreal. Officially because she was ill, in reality the GDR doctors refused to send her on the basis of wrongly calculated doping doses and the fear of the associated positive test. Four years later she won three gold medals in Moscow. As a result of excessive anabolic use, Krause bore two handicapped children after her sports career.

Ulrike Richter (1959-) won the 100 and 200m backstroke in Montréal and with the relay team the 4 x 100m medley. Three years earlier she broke the world record 100m backstroke as a 14-year-old. East German officials later admitted that she too had gotten doping.

Track and Field

The most well-known but also forbidden method to promote sports performance is blood doping, administering your own blood, your own red blood cells or related blood products. In doing so, blood is drawn off from the athlete and he has to train further in 'anemic' condition. After that period, he gets his blood or red blood cells back injected, which ensures that more oxygen is brought to the muscles. The phenomenon really came to the attention when some TV commentators at the 1976 Summer Olympics suggested that Lasse Viren (1949), the Finnish winner of the 5,000 and 10,000 meters, would have used blood doping.

Polish discus thrower Danuta Rosani (1951-) may claim the dubious honor to be the first woman to be caught for doping at the Olympics, she tested positive on anabolic steroids.

Mac Wilkins (1950-), who later won the discus event, fled Montreal to hide at the German camp in Trois Riviers with his trainer Christian Gehrmann (1938-2001). The American feared that an unannounced check would bring the use of doping to light.


Polish weightlifter Zbigniew Kaczmarek (1946-) had to hand in the gold medal he won during the Games, after an anabolic steroid had been found at the doping control. In 1982 he fled with his family to West Germany, where he became German champion weightlifting several times.

Bulgarian weightlifter Valentin Khristov (1956-) also had to hand in the gold medal in his weight class after a positive pee. Four years later he won the silver medal.

Bulgarian Blagoj Blagoew (1956-) won the silver medal in the light-heavyweights but had to surrender that medal when it appeared that he had been on  anabolic steroids. Four years later in Moscow he again won silver, but then the controls were virtually non-existent.

Americans Mark Cameron (1952-) and Phil Grippaldi (1946-), Swedish Arne Norrback (1937-) and Czech Petr Pavlásek (1947-) were also on anabolics and sent home.

Also Romanian Dragomir Ciorosian (1954-) was caught using anabolic steroids and disqualified. He rejoined the 1980 and 1984 Olympics, and won the bronze medal in the middleweight in L.A. 1984.