Doping and sports - 1979


UEFA decided to test for doping during international competitions.

American Football

Thomas 'Hollywood' Henderson (1953) played linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys in the American National Football League, but his devastating lifestyle full of drugs and alcohol made him last five years. During most of the matches he snorted liquid cocaine from the inhaler that was hidden in his pants. In November 1983 he was arrested for smoking cocaine with two young girls. He was even accused of having threatened them with a rifle and sexually abusing one of them. For this he received 28 months imprisonment and he had to go into rehab for eight months. In 2000 he came in the news again when he won $28 million in the Texan lottery and started a charitable organization with that money.


After the thirteenth stage of the 1979 Tour de France, Italian Giovanni Battaglin (1951-) tested positive when he wore the spotted jersey as leader of the mountain classification. He got ten minutes penalty time, lost the points he earned in that thirteenth stage and he also got ten penalty points deducted in the mountain classification. Yet Battaglin won the mountain classification on arrival in Paris.

In the same Tour, Belgian Frans Van Looy (1950-) and French Gilbert Chaumaz (1953-) also tested positive.

After that Tour de France it appeared that also Joop Zoetemelk (1946-) had been doping, something he later confessed. The Dutchman got ten minutes penalty time but in spite of everything he kept his second place in the final classification.


After 194 Bundesliga games Dane Per Røntved (1949-) left Werder Bremen in July 1979. Back in Denmark he published the book 'Die Kehrseite', (The Other Side) in which he mentioned that some Werder Bremen players were constantly using doping, which they did not reveived from the team physician but they bought it elsewhere.


At the 1972 Olympics in Munich, GDR-swimmer Renate Vogel (1955-) won the silver medal in the 200m breaststroke. When she was beaten as a towering favorite by West German Christel Justen (1957-2005) at the European Championships in 1974, the East German sport officials treated her as a 'loser'. For her reason enough to flee to the West. With a false passport and money from friends, she embarked on a plane ticket to Munich in 1979 after a holiday in Budapest. In the West she gave a lot of interviews to the international media, in which she revealed the talent hunt and the associated and systematically doping practices of the GDR. The East German authorities reacted with threats and revenge, insofar as she even got personal bodyguards after a failed assassination attempt.

"We were guinea pigs. Under the cover of UM or Unterstützende Mittel (supportive means), the trainer and the physicians gave us without us knowing anabolics and other stimulants, which they described as vitamins."

Track and Field

After the 1,500m on the Balkan games of 1979, Romanian Natalia Marasescu (1952-) tested positive for anabolic steroids and she was suspended for eighteen months. Because her sentence was reduced to eight months afterwards, she was able to participate at the Moscow Olympics in the following year.

German decathlete Holger Schmidt (1957-) changed from Gießen to Wattenscheid in 1979 because he had the promise that he would score two to three hundred points more with the arrival of the GDR trainer Peter Hunold, who had fled to the West. With that total number of points, he would belong to the world top five. Schmidt had the impression that a lot of doping products had already been experimented at Wattenscheid.

"Officially no one took anything, that was clear, and it was even the official attitude of the board, but I remember being sent to Madrid for the European Cup for clubs where I participated in the 110m hurdles in preparation for a decathlon. I pointed out to the club leaders that I was in the middle of an anabolic treatment, they told me that I could go safely, because there would be no control. The athletes were very open to doping, they even exchanged recommendations about dosages. We drove far to get syringues, sometimes we got thirty to fourty per treatment, the only very important thing was that you had to stop taking anabolics fourteen days before the game, but no one pointed out the dangerous side effects "