Doping and sports - 1988


In the United States, the use of steroids was banned for non-medical uses.

The American pharmaceutical company Amgen launched EPO for the treatment of anemia.

Peptide hormones, ACTH included, are added to the IOC list of banned substances. The IOC foresees 2 million Dollars to have a test against the 2000 Olympics that can detect the human growth hormone.

Doping in the GDR

"To make them play better, the communist regime of East Germany provided stimulants to its footballers on a large scale,"

wrote German historian Giselher Spitzer (1952-) in his book on football in the GDR. The situation was extremely serious with multiple champion BFC Dynamo Berlin. When Dynamo had to face the West German Werder Bremen in the 1988 European Cup, fifteen players were given banned drugs. According to the archives, this was a 'short-acting stimulant', known as 'vitamin B-17-Complex'. At home Dynamo won 3-0, in Bremen, however, it lost 5-0. For fear of the doping control, the East Germans had not risked the product in the return. A year later, a player fled to the West described his experiences with the pills in the newspaper Bild.

"They were white tablets that had to dissolve under the tongue, after which you saw colors and contrasts much clearer."

Former player Falko Götz (1962-) joined the group of victims who wanted to sue BFC Dynamo Berlin. Other players denied they had ever used doping at the club.

Keeper Bodo Rudwaleit (1957-), for example, claimed:

"This is idiotic, Spitzer wants to sell his book. It has been proven there is no benifit from doping in football."

Spitzer then answered in interviews that he did not want to accuse the athletes who attacked him of hypocrisy because they often did not know what they were using

"I suspect that there were even programs for inducing athletes to swallow things that they did not know, which is why the physicians regularly changed the preparation or the time of ingestion, thus creating a mentality that made it easier to administer doping."

According to Spitzer, it was Aponeuron, an amphetamine that not only sharpened concentration but also improved mood and motor skills. His research showed that the use of doping yearly killed thirty GDR athletes, not counting the doping deaths in the police, the army and school sports. One of the youngest victims was 16-year-old swimmer Jörg Sievers (1958-1973), who died from the consequences of long-term anabolic use. Especially his training schedule was bizarre, it clearly differed from the centrally defined schedules. Spitzer suspected that the doping doctors used Sievers as guinea pigs to determine how heavy they could burden the organism. The autopsy revealed broken kidneys, liver and spleen.

The East German doping program was immense. Tens of thousands of talented children were sent to special schools, where five thousand trainers and a thousand doctors gave them two million anabolica tablets each year.

"Users of anabolics later had handicapped children," Spitzer reported, "and many amphetamine users grabbed the bottle after their sporting career, and without knowing it they had become addicted and when the programs stopped they used alcohol as a compensation."

Body building

German bodybuilder Werner Laufer (1968-1988) wanted to become as strong as his idol Arnold Schwarzenegger (1947-). That is why he started with anabolics and he doubled his body weight. One year after the first intake, Laufer died after his third heart attack.


The success of Italian cycling was also the success of the Italian physicians Francesco Conconi (1935-) and Michele Ferrari (1953-), who can be described as the top specialists of erythropoetin (EPO).

"If you want to ban EPO, you have to start with the physicians," said the Dutch lawyer and doping specialist Emile Vrijman, "the bottleneck in the whole discussion is that there is no detection method. According to Conconi you need one liter of urine to find EPO. Which rider can produce a liter of urine after a stage? Nobody"

EPO was developed in the 1980s for people with kidney failure, but was quickly abused by athletes looking for a better condition and better performance. EPO stimulates the production of red blood cells in the bone marrow, which increases the amount of oxygen uptake in the blood. A Swedish study of fifteen athletes showed an aerobic performance improvement of almost 10%. But increased blood viscosity also increases the risk of blood clots, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke, especially at night if the heart rate is low.

During the 1988 Tour de France, Dutch cyclist Gert-Jan Theunisse (1963-) tested positive for testosterone. He got a ten minutes penalty, as a result of which he dropped from fourth to eleventh place. In 2000 he confessed to the 'Eindhovens Dagblad' that he had used the corticoid Celestone, but he denied the use of testosterone.

On November 26, 1988 Belgian cyclist Geert Van de Walle (1964-1988) died of a heart attack. Willy Voet (1945-) noted this death in his book 'Massacre à la Chaîne', but he admitted that he could not prove the connection of this early death with doping use.

Italian cyclo-cross rider Claudio Golinelli (1962-) was disqualified at the 1988 World Championships after a positive doping check for nadrolon.

On August 17, 1988 during the cycling criterion of Naaldwijk, Dutch Connie Meijer (1963-1988) suddenly became unwell. She bumped into a crush barrier and didn't stand up anymore. She died of cardiac arrest at the age of 25.

Jeannie Longo (1958-) is without a doubt the most successful cyclist of all time. 1124 victories, thirteen world titles, 115 stage wins in the tour, 38 world records, 58 French champions and participation in seven Olympics. She won 112 medals in total at Olympics, World Championships and French Championships. And with that the French did better than any man ever. But her victories are clouded in doping doubts. In 1988 she published the book 'Du miel dans mon cartable' (Honey in my briefcase), where she commented on the positive ephedrine test after her attempt to break the 3km world record on the Colorado Springs course. She admitted the use of Exosulin, a homeopathic pomade, which was found to contain ephedrine in a second analysis.

In 2007, however, the American rider and infamous doping sinner Joe Papp (1975-) claimed that Patrice Ciprelli (1954-), Longo's husband and trainer, had bought EPO from him for his wife. In November 2011, Ciprelli was suspended for this. In September 2011, Longo once again became discredited because there was a lack of clarity about her 'whereabouts' several times. In eighteen months she had avoided them three times. Reason why that year she was not allowed to start at the World Championships.

In July 1988 the article 'L'honneur sauvé de Pedro Delgado'  (The Rescued Honor of Pedro Delgado), was published in the French sports newspaper 'Miroir du Cyclisme'. One of the passages was 'The yellow jersey laundered', an allusion to the fact that Pedro Delgado (1960-) was acquitted of doping, because he would not have known what product the doctor administered to him. Making it possible to win the Tour de France in 1988 in extremis. It was very pathetic that the Spaniard, like so many others, had a blind faith in science. His acquittal was therefore justified. However, according to the reporter probenecid was found in his urine, a diuretic that can mask anabolics during an analysis. For this reason the International Olympic Committee had banned the product, but the International Cycling Union did not think that was necessary at that time, because the utility in cyclists was not proven. Delgado himself did took the allegations seriously and said:

"I want to forget all this, I am the yellow jersey of this Tour, everything else does not matter."

Figure skating

In 1988 American figure skater Tai Reina Babilonia (1960-) after an attempted suicide it became known she was addicted to amphetamines.


In July 1988, French newspaper Libération published the official statistics of the Spanish 'Consejo superior de deportes' (CSD = highest sports council), which showed that the percentage of doping offenses in the Spanish highest football classes was 2.41%. That was more than in cycling and therefore football came in third place after bodybuilding and weightlifting.

Power lifting

In an anonymous survey, only 33% of adult power lifters admitted that they were using anabolics. However, letting the question be reset by someone they trusted showed that the number rose to 55%.

Track and Field

In 1988, pole vaulter Jeff Gutteridge (1956-) was the first British athlete to be suspended for life because of steroid use. In 1992, however, he was allowed to get back to work.

James Doehring (1962-) was caught in 1988 for the use of testosterone, which the American also admitted during an interview in 1989. It gave him two years of suspension. In early 1992 he was sentenced to 125 hours of social work for dealing amphetamine. Still, he won the silver medal in the shot put contest at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.

Weight lifting

At the women's world weightlifting championship, China dominated the event, winning every one of the nine body weight classes. Some months later an insider of the International Weightlifting Federation informed American journalist Terry Todd (1937-2018) (photo) that all nine winners had tested positive. But, out of fear that weight lifting would be dropped from the Olympic program, as Vice President Richard Pound (1942-) already had proposed, the federation called the Chinese Federation with the request to leave those nine winners home the following year and that the positive cases would then not be made public. That happened, but to everyone's surprise, the Chinese again won all titles in the body weight classes. In addition, they lifted exactly the same weights in both movements as the winners of 1988.