Doping and sports - 1989


On 16 December 1989 in Strasbourg, 48 countries signed the Anti-Doping Convention of the Council of Europe, the first ever multilateral legal standard in this field. The non-European member states Australia, Belarus, Canada and Tunisia also signed the agreement, which did not want to claim a universal anti-doping model, but which did establish a number of common standards and regulations requested by the various parties to financial, technical and pedagogical measures. The main objective was to promote national and international harmonization of measures to be taken against doping. In its provisions, the Contracting Parties undertook to:

  • establish a national coordinating body;
  • prohibit trading in and the use of doping products;
  • to strengthen doping controls and improve detection techniques;
  • to support training and awareness programs;
  • to ensure the efficiency of sanctions against offenders;
  • to cooperate at all levels with sports organizations, including the international level;
  • use authorized anti-doping laboratories.

Furthermore, the Convention described the task of a Monitoring Group, which was set up to monitor the implementation of the Convention and to periodically re-examine the list of prohibited substances and methods. An additional protocol to the Convention entered into force on April 1 2004 with the aim of ensuring mutual recognition of anti-doping controls and strengthening the implementation of the Convention through a binding system.

The results of an anonymous survey, conducted among athletes from the NCAA sections I to III, showed that one in ten football players had used anabolics in the previous twelve months. Other college sports such as baseball, basketball, football, gymnastics, lacrosse, swimming, tennis, track and field, volleyball, and wrestling were also linked to the use.

The Russian daily Leninskoje Snamja published that 290 positive doping cases were registered with Russian athletes in the period 1896-1988, who were kept silent to the outside world. Sergei Wajzchekowski, the former head coach of the Soviet swimmers, who had already started work in Vienna, declared without a doubt that in the past all his swimmers had been doped.

Doping in the GDR

In the German Democratic Republic, panic broke loose when sports doctor Hans-Georg Aschenbach (1951-), Olympic champion ski jumping from 1976, had fled to the West together with judo officer Hans Noczensky. In June 1989, Aschenbach gave the German weekly 'Bild am Sonntag' a detailed overview of his adventures and experiences as an athlete and as a medical doctor, with which he dispelled the doubts about the doping reality of the past decades in the GDR.

"Yes, I have used doping for my entire sporting career, I swallowed and injected anabolic steroids for eight years ... We had to take those medicines compulsory, we were forced to talk to no one about it. .... Every day I had to take 30 to 40 mg nandrolone and ten days before a race the doping pills were abolished ... Studies had shown that after five days no traces were found in the body again."

Soon other confessions followed, swimmer Christiane Knacke (1962-), the first woman below the minute at 100m butterfly, confirmed Aschenbach's statements and mentioned names. She was a member of the Stasi club SC Dynamo Berlin, where she received the anabolica from her trainer Rolf Gläser, who was known as 'einen der Schärfsten Anabolika-Trainer der DDR' (one of the heaviest anabolics trainers in the GDR) and from sports physician Lothar Kippke (1928-), 'den man niemals mehr an jungen Sportler heranlassen dürfe' (which one should never be let to young athletes).

Knacke also told how she and Petra Thümer (1961-), at the Montreal Olympics winner of the 400 and 800m freestyle, were told by their trainer just before the start of the 1978 World Championship in Berlin that they could not participate because the anabolic level in their urine was much too high.

She also spoke about the dramatic consequences of doping with anabolics and stated that her colleague Barbara Krause (1959-) had two disabled children, Olympic champion Andrea Pollack (1961-2019) miscarried and that her own daughter Jennifer was seriously ill for five months. Andrea Pollack died in March 2019 of the effects of cancer.

In the autumn of 1989, the former discus thrower Günter Schaumburg (1943-), who participated in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico and coached in the GDR for eight years, was told to take high doses of Oral-Turinabol from 1967 onwards.

Also decathlete and bobsleigher Steffen Grummt (1959-) did not remain silent and swimmer Raik Hannemann (1968-) gave details about the doping practices of the GDR in the 'Berliner Kurier'.

American Football

Bill Fralic (1962-), linesman at the Atlanta Falcons, testified in 1989 for the United States Senate Commission:

"I dare to claim that 75% of the guys I played against were on steroids"

Senator Joe Biden (1942-) from Delaware, the later vice president under Barack Obama (1961), called Fralic's testimony "refreshing and credible".


American basket player Darrell Allums (1958-) was sentenced to nine years imprisonment in 1989 for robbing fourteen pizza deliverers. The reason for these robberies was that he needed money for his cocaine addiction.


In 1989 professional bodybuilder Tonya Knight (1966-) won the title 'Miss International'. The American had to surrender her title when it turned out that she had sent a doppelganger to doping control the year before. On top of the disqualification and the return of the prize pool she was also suspended for two years. In her re-appearance in 1991 she won 'Miss International' after all.


On August 19 1989 Dutch cyclist Bert Oosterbosch (1957-1989) died of a heart attack. His death was cited by Willy Voet (1945-) in his book 'Massacre à la Chaîne', although Voet admitted that he could not make a connection between this sudden death and possible doping.

On September 17 1989, French rider Laurent Fignon (1960-2010) tested positive for amphetamines after the Eindhoven Grand Prix de la Libération. He did not ask any counter-expertise, but confessed that he had swallowed a whole bunch of amphetamines before the match and accepted his three-month suspension.

At the end of his sporting career, Dutch rider Johan van der Velde (1956-) let himself be treated for his amphetamine addiction. In an interview with Dutchman Jan Siebelink (1938-), author of the book 'Pain is pleasure', he confessed that he took it hard when his success started to wane. Van der Velde recalled that he was shivering at the start of an Italian match, the arms full of goose bumps through the amphetamines he had swallowed just before. In 1981, after a positive pee, he was disqualified in Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

English rider Sean Yates (1960-) tested positive after the first stage of Torhout-Werchter. Later he became a sports director at Sky.


After the match of his team for the America Cup against Equador, Uruguayan Pablo Javier Bengoechea (1975-) delivered a positive pee on caffeine. FIFA suspended him for two years.

Philippe Anziani (1961-), forward at Matra Racing Paris, tested positive for the forbidden painkiller Dextropopoxyphen for which he was suspended for one month.

Ice hockey

Russian ice hockey player Igor Larionov (1960), who went to Canada, told the press that the Russian federation trainer Victor Tichonow (1930-) forced him to take doping and that when there were doping controls there were always small containers filled with tubes of 'pure' urine behind the toilets. 

At the B-World Championships in Norway, Austrian ice hockey player Siegfried Häberl (1967-) tested positive for testosterone, resulting in eighteen months suspension.

Canadian Bob Probert (1965-2010) played forward with the Detroit Red Wings and the Chicago Blackhawks in the American National Hockey League. In 1989 he was arrested at the American-Canadian border when the customs found fourteen grams of cocaine in his underpants. He was locked up for six months and suspended for the same amount of time by the NFL. In 1994 he crashed with his motorcycle against a car with an alcohol content in the blood that was three times the permitted level and there were also traces of cocaine found. The Detroit Red Wings threw him out. In June 2004 Probert was arrested again. After parking his BWM on the wrong side of the street, he went into an exchange of words about drugs with bystanders. Several police officers had to intervene with tasers and stunguns. In July 2005 he was arrested at home for breach of peace, resisting arrest, and assaulting a police officer and the following month again in a bar in Ontario because he ignored his alcohol ban. After paying a $200 bail, he was released again. During a boat trip on Lake St. Clair with his children and in-laws, he suddenly felt bad chest pain in July 2010. He became unconscious and despite his father-in-law bringing him to a hospital, he could not be saved.

Track and Field

In 1989, Danish decathlete Søren Wulff Johansson (1971-) was suspended for two years for the use of anabolic steroids. In 1995 he tested positive for a second time and got a life sentence.

Also in 1989 German athletes had to deliver urine samples even during their training, although they were warned long before.

American shot-putter Jim Doehring (1962-) delivered a positive pee on anabolic steroids. Although he was very concerned about its use, he did not want to give it up for fear of not being able to compete anymore.

"I'd love to compete drug-free against drug-free opponents ... I know I can throw clean as far as anyone can."

Canadian 100m hurdler Julie Rocheleau (1964-) was suspended for two years after anabolic steroids were found in her urine.

American 100m sprinter Diane Williams (1960-) confessed in 1989 that she had doped between 1974 and 1984 with anabolic steroids. In that period she won bronze at the World Championships in Helsinki in 1983. Because of the side effects she stopped using it.

Her trainer Chuck DeBus (1945-) was suspended for life, but it did not prevent him from remaining active in the athletics world with his company Velocity Sports Performance.

Ukrainian shot-putter Oleksandr Bahatsch (1966-) was excluded from the EuropCup in 1989 due to doping, which the Russian team subsequently cost the World Cup. He was suspended for two years, but when he returned to the European indoor championships in Ghent in 2000, he was again caught and suspended for life.

The junior world record of Bulgarian heptathlonist Svetlana Dimitrova (1970-) was annulled after her positive doping test, and she also received two years of suspension.

Josef Odložil (1938-1993), winner of the silver medal at the 1,500m during the  1964 Olympics in Tokyo and then head coach of the Czechoslovak track and field team, publicly admitted that at the 1983 World Championships in Helsinki 80% of his athletes were prepared with anabolics.

Weight lifting

Under oaths, Canadian weightlifters confessed why they were so eager to go to Chechoslovakia at training camps. For an all-in price of 50 dollars they were prepared by the local trainer 'Emil', including the urine analysis for the return journey to Canada.

After two Hungarian weightlifters were caught using anabolics during the Seoul Olympics, a new scandal erupted in March 1989. Hungarian trainer Istvan Juhaz would have given anabolics to his young weightlifters, including 16-year-olds. During the police interrogation, he argued that this was usual with the Hungarian federation. A little later, Kalman Csengeri (1959-), one of the doping sinners in Seoul, was caught again, whereupon he was suspended for life.