Doping and sports - 1980-Olympics

1980 Olympics

Although officially no one was caught for doping, everyone was convinced that there had been heavily swallowed and injected in Moscow. In a 1989 report from an Australian Senate committee was stated that

"... there was hardly a medal winner at the Moscow Games, certainly not a gold medalist, who had not been on some kind of drugs."

The Moscow Games were therefore called the 'Games of the Pharmacy'.

After the Moscow Games, Manfred Donike (1938-1995) developed a new test for the detection of exogenous testosterone, which was applied retroactively to all urine samples of the Games. 20% of all male and female athletes then tested positive, including sixteen gold medal winners.


15-year-old Rica Reinisch (1965) won the 100 and 200m backstroke as well as the relay 4 x 100m medley. After the Olympics, the East German had five world records in her possession. Years later, her name was also mentioned in the DDR's widespread doping program. Reinisch received blue pills from the age of fourteen, causing heart rhythm disorders and three inflammations of the heart muscle. In addition, she had two miscarriages and recurrent cysts on the ovaries. In May 2000 she testified before the Berlin District Court against Manfred Ewald (1926-2002), the former chairman of the Deutsche Turn- und Sportbundes der DDR and of the Nationalen Olympic Committee of the GDR, and against Manfred Höppner (1934-), the deputy doctor of the Sportmedizinischen Dienstes der DDR. After the fall of the wall she moved to Hamburg where she became a sports reporter for TV.

Birgit Treiber (1960-), winner of the silver medal on 100 and 200m backstroke at the 1976 Games in Montreal, won the bronze medal on 100m backstroke in Moscow. In 1976 she also improved the world records 400m medley and 200m backstroke. The following year she was crowned European champion 100m and 200m backstroke in the Swedish Jönköpping, and she also won the 4 × 100m freestyle relay. After Moscow she stopped swimming and settled as a dentist in Leipzig. In the context of the GDR doping process, the related investigations and the study of the archive of the practices of doctors and sports officials from the GDR, the doping plan outlined for Birgit Treiber was found.

From 1980 to 1983 Ute Geweniger (1964-) belonged to the world top in swimming. She won a total of sixteen medals at the Olympics, World Cup and European Championship, of which thirteen gold. She was most successful in the 100m breaststroke, in which she broke the world record six times and won the gold medal at the 1980 Olympics in Moscow. She also helped win the 4 x 100m medley. In 2005, Geweniger announced that she had achieved her success with the help of performance-enhancing substances, which were regularly supplied to her under state supervision. She did not, however, intend to hand in her records because she had to work hard for it. After her sporting career, she opened a beauty institute in her birthplace Chemnitz, which in the GDR period was called Karl-Marx Stadt.

Ines Geißler (1963-) won the 200m butterfly in Moscow. In 1981 and 1982 she was crowned as European and world champion but she stopped swimming after having won the European title 100m butterfly in 1983. Her successes were also attributed to the systematic delivery of performance-enhancing drugs by GDR sports officials, doctors and trainers.

From 1980 to 1984 Birgit Meineke (1964-) was the fastest swimmer at 100m freestyle, three times she became world champion and six times European champion. Just like so many other East German girls, Meineke was also systematically given doping without knowing it. That caused a lot of health problems later in life, for example, she got a liver tumor. In 1984 the East German ended her swimming career. Birgit Heukrodt-Meineke went on to become a surgeon, but she never lost her heavy baritone caused by excessive Oral-Turinabol use.

"In primary school we were already tested on our sporting abilities, if we were good enough we could continue studying at the sports institute. Four times a year we had to carry out extensive tests to the Research Center for Physical Education and Sport in Leipzig. In a water tank of three by five meters we swam against an adjustable water flow with ugly gas masks on the face. That was terrible. When I was twelve I had to swallow pills after training, I always thought they were vitamins. Later there were testosterone injections, which they called vitamin cocktails. For every major competition we had to deliver our urine for an internal doping test. The explanation was that they wanted to check whether we had not accidentally taken a 'forbidden' cough syrup and that the tests were meant to protect us against this. In reality, however, these internal tests were the success key of the system. After all, every athlete with traces of medication in the urine was not allowed to travel. In this way the GDR avoided that its athletes were caught doping during international competitions. At the age of 15 I got a heavy voice and when I asked my trainer about this, he replied that the humid air in the pool was the cause, just like my many colds. Among athletes it was never discussed what they did with us, because that subject was taboo. When I complained to team doctor Lothar Kipke (1928-) about my frequent acne, he replied that I did not have enough sexual intercourse. There were also reasons enough not to complain. After all, in the GDR I was an important person as a world champion, and I even received the highest distinction in the Order of the Patriotic Merit. We received massive attention from the local press and traveled around the world. Moreover, we enjoyed material benefits. On my twentieth birthday I received an apartment as a gift and a Wartburg, for which a 'normal' citizen had to work for fifteen years. With each improvement of records I got a bonus of 15,000 East German Marks, at that time a huge amount of money in the GDR. When I quit sports, the acne disappeared and I got my periods again, only my voice was ruined. In 1993 I suddenly got jaundice, research showed that I had Hepatitis C and a liver tumor as big as a tennis ball. It was the first time that I thought of doping and the associated consequences. I do not have any nostalgia for that time, my medals are stored in the cellar in a big box. I am scared, I would like to reach seventy and become grandmother, but I do not know if that is still possible."

In 1998, her former coach Rolf Glaeser (1950-) was fined for four thousand dollars for causing physical injury.


After becoming European champion at the super heavyweights in 1972, winning the bronze medal at the Munich Olympics in the same year and winning the silver medal in Montreal four years later, GDR weightlifter Gerd Bonk (1951-2014) was prepped for gold at the Moscow Games. Although he was known as a diabetic, he was still given huge doses of 11.5 grams of Oral-Turinabol, testosterone and hCG. But just before the Games, the GDR withdrew its title candidate. Because he was injected a long-acting anabolicum, it was possible he would test positive during the Olympics. Moreover, because of the insane treatments, his diabetes deteriorated so severely that he left it with a permanent disability, so that he completely disappeared from the scene. His kidneys were damaged in such a way that he needed a kidney transplant, but in order to survive the transplant he had to be operated on his heart first. Because of his diabetes his wounds healed very poorly, his left foot was a big gaping wound, on his right hand he maintained only two fingers after amputations and his eyes were so bad that they had to implant new lenses. After these operations, he needed three new procedures to repair the damage of the previous one, leaving him bedridden for nine weeks. From then on, he had to go to kidney dialysis three times a week and he ended up in a wheelchair. On this he said:

"I once held the world record weightlifting, maybe I'll get the world record dialysis now."