Doping and sports - 1988 Olympics

1988 Olympics

A study by the New York Times after the Olympics showed that at least half of all athletes in Seoul had used anabolics to improve performance.


Austrian rider Christoph Ziermann (1968-) was suspended of the Olympic selection after a positive test for anabolic steroids.

Ice hockey

Polish Jaroslaw Morawiecki (1964-) was caught on testosterone after the match against France, which resulted in eighteen months suspension and the 6-2 victory of his team was reversed to 0-2 loss. According to the Polish delegation, the high testosterone values were the result of contaminated croquettes at a party. Two years later, however, Morawiecki tested positive again, which resulted in a lifelong suspension. In 1992 the verdict was suspended and he resumed his career with the Swedish Olofstroem IK, then with the French Caen. In 1997 he returned to Poland where he successively played for KKH Katowice, Basin, GKS Tychy and TKH Torun. He played 57 games for the Polish national team in which he scored seventeen times and he participated at the World Championships of 1985, 1986 and 1987. After his player career he became coach of TKH Torun and the Polish U-20 team.


English judoka Kerrith Brown (1962-), who won the bronze medal four years before in Los Angeles at the lightweights, had to leave the tournament after a positive test for furosemide.

Modern pentathlon

During a control test, extremely high values of caffeine were discovered with Australian Alexander Watson (1957), as a result of which he was suspended of the modern pentathlon competition. His explanation afterwards was that these high values were due to twelve to fifteen cups of coffee and at least three glasses of cola.

Speed skating

Russian speed skater Nikolay Gulyayev (1966-) was the big favorite for the gold on the 1,500m at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, after he had won the 1,000 and 1,500m at the World Cup in Inzell the previous month. A few days after that win, however, he was caught trying to smuggle 700 capsules of the anabolic steroid Dianabol.

Track and Field

The first five from the shot put competition Ulf Timmerman (1962-) from the GDR, American Randy Barnes (1966-), Swiss Werner Günthör (1961-), Udo Beyer (1955-) from the GDR and Czechoslovakian Remigius Machura (1960 -) were all caught for doping in the following years.

The rivalry between American Carl Lewis (1961-) and Canadian Ben Johnson (1965) reached its peak at the Seoul Games when Johnson set a crushing 9.79 in the 100 meter final, 0.14 better than Lewis' world record.. The chrono was scrapped and Johnson had to hand in the gold medal when the anabolic steroid Stanozole was found in his urine a few days later. Later he confessed the use of Dianabol, the testosterone Cypionate, furazabol and the human growth hormone. Carl Lewis was awarded the gold medal.

American sports physician Robert Kerr (1936-2001), known as the 'steroid guru', said in that context during an interview:

"I watched the race on TV with a track coach, and we both were awed by the athletic performance. And we both exclaimed: Where did that body come from? What's he on?"

Kerr was a controversial figure who openly admitted that he was administrating athletes with anabolics in the 1980s, including 20 medal winners from the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, which he never betrayed. He provided anabolic steroids for about 20 athletes who won medals at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. He never identified the athletes. He said he began prescribing drugs for athletes because he was appalled to see them buying drugs on the black market. In his 1982 book ''The Practical Use of Anabolic Steroids With Athletes,'' he mentioned that he had treated more than 4,000 athletes from 20 countries. Kerr later stopped prescribing steroids, saying that his attempts to give athletes guidance failed because they often supplemented what he prescribed with drugs they obtained elsewhere. He also got a sample of the product Ben Johnson had used and after analysis it turned out to be WinsolV, an anabolicum that is given to horses.

Great consternation, however in 2003, when doctor Wade Exum (1949-), the former director of the drugs control administration of the American Olympic Committee, told to the weekly magazine Sports Illustrated that more than a hundred Americans had tested positive and actually shouldn't have been allowed to go to the Games. And one of them was Lewis, who even tested positive three times on pseudoephedrine, ephedrine and phenylpropanolamine. To everyone's surprise, the USOC accepted Lewis's statement that he had not done so deliberately. Moreover, the athletics federation IAAF did not resort to sanctions because the concentrations found were too low.

"I feel sorry for Ben Johnson, maybe not all athletes, but at least 90% of them use drugs, including our own," said an anonymous Soviet coach in the New York Times in October 1988.

Prohibited substances were also found in Lewis' teammates Joe DeLoach (1967-) and Floyd Heard (1966-) and they also went free for the same reasons. Later, however, Lewis knew that he had tested positive three times during those American trials.

"Hundreds of others also tested positive and were left untouched, everyone was treated equally, and no exception was made for me, he reported in the Orange County Register newspaper. "The only thing I want to say is that I find it unfortunate what Wade Exum does, and I do not understand why people make so much noise about it, everyone was treated in the same way."

GDR athlete Christian Schenk (1965) won the gold medal in the decathlon. After the fall of the wall his name appeared in a lot of dopinglists. In 2018 he confessed that he had won that title with stimulants.


At the middleweights Hungarian Kálmán Csengeri (1959-) was caught using stanozolol, which earned him a disqualification.

Bulgarians Mitko Grablev (1964-) and Angel Guenchev (1967-) were asked to pack their bags and hand in the gold medal after they tested positive for furosemide. The Bulgarian team leadership then pulled the entire team out of competition to avoid even more doping cases.

Hungarian Andor Szanyi (1964-) won the silver medal in the heavyweights, but had to surrender it after a positive test on stanozolol.

Spanish Fernando Mariaca (1959-) had taken from pemoline, and was forced to leave.

Four years after his positive test in LA Austrian Stefan Laggner (1958-) again tested positive in Seoul.


Ali Dad (1964-) from Afghanistan was caught by the featherweights on the use of furomeside and was sent home.