Doping and sports - 1997


In an anonymous survey in the United States, 3.1% of the National College Athletic Association (NCAA) athletes that were surveyed admitted that they were using amphetamines and 29% of them stated that they had obtained these drugs through a doctor.

In his report, the Italian doping hunter Sandro Donati (1947-) clarified the doping practices of cycling and thus threw a real bomb on the cycling world. Two relevant issues became clear: the generalization of the phenomenon, because 80% of the peloton would be involved and the change in the type of doping. Anabolic steroids were slowly but surely being replaced by other hormones, such as ACTH, hCG and insulin, which can cause worrying side effects. During his research, Donati repeatedly stumbled upon the name Francesco Conconi (1945-), at that time chairman of the Medical Committee of the International Cycling Union (UCI) and responsible for starting EPO detection tests. Donati came to the frightening conclusion:

"One of the biggest representatives of EPO doping also acts as an expert for detecting that doping."

The report also emphasized the overwhelming evidence. Seven doctors and 21 riders were willing to talk about it. It turned out that Polish rider Joachim Halupczok (1968-1994), 1989 amateur world champion, who in 1994 officially died of a 'heart attack', was accompanied by a doctor who

"Had major problems in matters related to doping in horses".

Or the case of a well-known Italian rider who during the 1993 Giro nearly died of a cardiac arrest due to an excessive amount of EPO. By injecting blood thinners, he was saved in the nick of time, his heart beating 25 beats per minute at that moment. In his report Donati also accused the entire business around the doping industry:

"The financial interests that go with it are enormous. Last year, a pharmacist from Pisa delivered for more than 150 million lira (90,000 Euro) bottles of EPO in six months time. "

A former rider also detailed the inequality caused by money in the report:

"The doping use for the less fortunate costs five thousand euros annually, that of rich riders nine thousand euros per session and normally ten sessions are provided annually."

Doping in the GDR

In 1997 Yvonne Gebhard (1963-) was told by her gynecologist that she had cancer, followed by an amputation of the right breast. The physician suspected that her breast cancer was closely related to the doping products she received as a sportswoman. She developed an anabolica-dependent tumor years after she stopped with top sport. In 1977, the 14-year-old was included in the Kinder- und Jugendsportschule of SG Dynamo Halle-Mitte as a javelin thrower. At the age of 16 she received a selection for the national youth team, she became junior champion of the GDR and in 1981 she finished fourth at the European Championships for juniors. But when she turned twenty she had to stop with the sport.

"... one night after the training, my trainer Maria Ritschel came to my room." Supporting substances are substances that support, "she said." They support your body, and they only work in their entirety: a better metabolism, faster recovery after training, more strength. "On the table were several tablets. ... The trainer took her time and explained in detail when this and that had to be taken and asked me if I had understood the order ... My body petrified, solidified from the inside, my muscles exploded, knots formed under my shoulder blades ... Through how many signs and signals you have to look when you're stuck in a system that works on conspiracy and is strictly classified .... At that time we did not suspect anything, we trusted them.... Those were not pains said the doctors, that was only in the head .... Two years I wandered around with a cramped body, I got injections, treatments, infusions. I was allowed to leave at the age of 20. "

Thanks to the courage and perseverance of the German Professor Werner Franke (1940-) and his wife Brigitte Berendonk (1942-), detailed information was found about the doping activities in the GDR. From top-secret dissertations, scientific reports, subsidy reports, reports from symposia and reports from doctors and scientists who worked unofficially as employees for the Ministry of State Security (Stasi), it appeared that hundreds of doctors and scientists, including high-level professors, carried out doping research from 1966 and experimented both with known and unknown drugs. For example, thousands of athletes were treated with anabolics every year, including minors of both sexes. Particular attention was paid to the anabolic administration in women and adolescent girls, because the practice showed that it was especially efficient for them in improving sports performance.

When the English newspaper 'The Times' questioned him about this, FINA president Mustapha Larfaoui (1932-) did not immediately get an answer and muttered that the past could not be reversed. The International Olympic Committee had decided to leave the results and medals obtained with doping on the honors list. Maybe they did not notice that triple Olympic champion Rica Reinisch (1965) got five miscarriages and suffered from recurrent ovarian cysts. Or perhaps they had not paid attention to the testimony of Catherine Menschner (1964-), who got male hormones at the age of 10 and suffered permanent damage to her back and reproductive organs. Or the story of the discus throwers Brigitte Michel (1956-) and Birgit Boese (1962-), who learned that they had sexual organs from a ten-year-old child. Or the history of Andreas Krieger (1966-), formerly known as the shotputter Heidi Krieger who, due to the massive administration of anabolics, had suicidal tendencies and was forced to undergo a sex change. Then there was also Jörge Sievers (1956-1973) who was found dead at the bottom of the swimming pool. The consequences of a severe flu were reported by the East German authorities, later it appeared that the boy had died of severe heart failure, which was accompanied by a severe thickening of the heart muscle, an acute spleen infection and severe liver damage, the result of the medical experiments carried out on him. All of this emphasized the enormity of the hidden doping system in the GDR, where all children were screened for their sporting talents and from which 10,000 were selected every year. From then on, they were coached by 4,700 professional coaches and a thousand doctors. Annually, about two million tablets of anabolic steroids were administered.

Thomas Springstein (1958-), former trainer of top-class sprinter Katrin Krabbe (1969-), was one of the DDR trainers who had his pupils swallow blue pills for ten years. He was summoned to court on charges of fraud, because he told his athletes that those blue pills were vitamin preparations.

The legacy of 144 gold, 120 silver and 120 bronze Olympic medals won by the East Germans at the 1972, 1976, 1980 and 1988 Games was overshadowed by handicapped children, gender changes and serious, even fatal, health problems. During the Games of 1976, 1980 and 1988, East German female swimmers won 32 of the 43 gold medals, all thanks to the blue pills.

German journalist Hans-Joachim "Hajo" Seppelt (1963-) is considered the great expert in the field of doping problems in the German and international sports environment. From 1985 he was live commentator for swimming at the German TV channel ARD.

Together with former Canadian swimmer Karin Helmstaedt (1966-), who became a beloved TV presenter in Berlin, in 1997 Seppelt turned the documentary 'State Secrecy Child Doping' about the doping perpetrators and victims in East German swimming. In this 30-minute report broadcast by the ARD, the consequences of the many years of doping by former GDR trainers and sports doctors on minor swimmers were revealed and the background of the systematic, organized manipulation practices came to light. In the film several ex-swimmers gave a lively description of the daily habits in the swimming sport and the health damage they suffered. The documentary was translated into nine languages and broadcast several times all over the world.

Together with Holger Schïck (1950-2009), Seppelt published in 1999 the book 'Anklage: Kinderdoping. Das Erbe des DDR-Sports', in which the doping practices of the GDR were discussed more deeply.

For both radio and television, from 1997 to 2000 Seppelt followed the trial in the Berlin District Court against the perpetrators of the DDR doping.

In 2001 he devoted a broadcast to the transsexuality of the former European shot put champion Heidi Krieger, who underwent a sex operation through the forced use of anabolics and then went through life as Andreas Krieger (1966-).

In 2002 he produced the theme broadcast 'Doping: Ein gefährliches Spiel' for Sender Freies Berlin.

In 2006, Seppelt reported extensively about doping in cycling. His research led to the identification of the German anesthetist Markus Choina (1953-), who also controlled the Polish national football team and the Polish athletics team, as an accomplice in the network of the Spanish sports doctor Eufemiano Fuentes (1955-).

In November 2006 Seppelt was awarded the 'Leuchtturm für besondere publizistische Leistungen', an award given by the journalists' association Netzwerk Recherche for his research, reports and exclusive news about the cyclists Jan Ullrich (1973-) and Floyd Landis (1975-) and the Spanish sports physician Eufemiano Fuentes (1955-).

In January 2007 the TV report 'Mission: Sauberer Sport' was broadcast in which Seppelt, together with colleague Jo Goll (1966), documented the work of the German doping researchers. Among other things, they highlighted the shortcomings in the German control system, which provoked heated public debates and contributed to structural changes in the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA). At the International TV Film Festival of 2007 in Bulgarian Plovdiv, the report was awarded the 'Silver Chest Award' and that same year in Milan with the international 'Sports Movie and TV Award'.

But the work of Seppelt was controversial. In January 2008, the Deutsche Skiverband (DSV) started an injunction against him because he refused to publish the suspicion of doping in German winter sports enthusiasts. The background was an ARD report in which it was suggested that German cross-country skiers and biathletes had received blood doping in a Viennese lab. The Hamburg Oberlandesgericht, however, ruled in favour of Seppelt because the DSV was not personally accused. The suspicions of Seppelt however could never be proven.

In July 2008, following the Olympic Games in Beijing, the ARD broadcasted the 45-minute documentary 'Olympia im Reich der Mittel: Doping in China', in which Seppelt and Goll went deeper into the use of doping and the doping controls in China, in particular about stem cell manipulation in athletes. During the New York Festivals, the broadcast was crowned with the 'gold world medal' and during the international festival for sports film Liberec in 2009, it received the first prize in the 'World Fact Challenge' category.

In 2009, just before the start of the World Athletics Championships in Berlin, the ARD broadcasted the report 'Geheime Sache Doping'. This report by Seppelt and Robert Kempe (1981-) highlighted the role behind the scenes of doping figures in athletics.

In 2010, just before the start of the Winter Games in Vancouver, the ARD showed the 30-minute broadcast 'Geheime Sache Doping - Eiskalter Betrug', in which Hajo Seppelt, Robert Kempe and Jochen Leufgens (1981-) took a look behind the scenes of the winter sports.

After research by Hajo Seppelt, the UCI had to admit in September 2010 that the Spanish Tour winner Alberto Contador (1982-) delivered a positive pee. The UCI tried to cover up the positive Clenbuterol test. In February 2012, Contador was suspended by the International Sports Court (CAS) for two years with retroactive effect.

In January 2012 Seppelt showed a contribution about the UV radiation of the blood of 30 athletes by a sports physician from Erfurt.

Together with Robert Kempe (1981-) he made a report in the spring and summer of 2012 about the doping use in Kenyan athletes.

In 2013 they both provided a critical documentary about German sports official Thomas Bach (1953-) (photo), who succeeded Belgian Jacques Rogge (1942-) a few years later as chairman of the IOC

In December 2014, the German TV channel ARD broadcast its 60-minute documentary "Geheime Sache Doping: Wie Russland seine Sieger macht", which was broadcasted in several languages worldwide and which resulted in many officials from various sports organizations offering their resignation. As a result of this broadcast, many Russian trainers and athletes were suspended for life and the Russian athletics federation from the IAAF was closed.

In August 2015, the documentary "Gehime Sache Doping: Im Schattenreich der Leichtathletik" about blood doping for which Seppelt collaborated with the London newspaper 'Sunday Times', the Australian exercise physiologist Mike Ashenden and the Australian sports physician Robin Parisotto. Former athlete Sebastian Coe (1956-), who aspired to chair the IAAF, called the revelations from the film a 'declaration of war on athletics'. However, a WADA investigation committee found corruption of many WADA top executives.

In March 2016, with the 30-minute "Geheime Sache Doping: Russlands Täuschungsmanöver" a sequel to the series was made, in which the ins and outs of Russian athletics were discussed in more depth. Together with fellow journalist Florian Riesewieck, Seppelt showed how Russian trainers and officials circumvented obligations of the IAAF and WADA. In June 2016, the ARD broadcasted the fourth volume "Geheime Sache Doping - Showdown für Russland", in which it was shown in collaboration with Felix Becker and Olga Sviridenko how the Russian trainers and officials still violated the imposed rules. Shortly after the broadcast, the IAAF extended the suspension of the Russian athletics federation, which prevented their athletes from participating in the Rio Games.

In November 2016, the four journalists issued the 22-minute film "Geheime Sache Doping: Die Schutzgeld-Erpresser" on the ARD, which was based on a study by the French newspaper "Le Monde", in which criminal machinations about doping were uncovered in international athletics.

In January 2017, 'Geheime Sache Doping' followed, in which the Russian athlete and whistleblower Andrey Dmitriev (1990-) documented with secret video recordings the ongoing and permanent doping culture of a doping suspected top trainer in Russian athletics, despite being suspended.

In June 2017, Seppelt and his colleague Andreas Spinrath (1987-) told about the use of doping in Russian football, which later followed the film "Brasiliens schmutziges Spiel" directed by Florian Riesewieck und Thilo Neumann.

In August the ARD broadcasted the film "Geheime Sache Doping" and together with Grit Hartmann, Benjamin Best and Ulrike Unfug, Hajo Seppelt investigated how European athletic managers dealt with African athletes and doping affaires in Ethiopia in the documentary "Der Lauf ums große Geld".

Just before the Olympic Winter Games of 2018 in Pyeongchang, the ARD showed the second part of 'Geheime Sache Doping', titled 'Das Olympia-Komplott: Der scheinheilige Kampf gegen den Sportbetrug'. The film explained how the IOC dealt with Russian state doping.

American Football

The speculation about the epidemic extent of drug use in the American Football League was further fueled by the dramatic increase in volume of quarterbacks and attacking linesman. In 1987 only 27 NFL players weighed more than 136 kg, in 1997 that number had risen to 240. Some claimed that this was a result of 'high calorie' diets and dietary supplements such as creatine, others pointed to the use of anabolic steroids and hGH. Moreover, the doping tests proved to be a joke. NFL officials would disguise positive tests from star players, after a positive test the players were allowed to come back the next day and they even advised them to bring a urine sample from someone else.

Australian Football

Justin Charles (1970-) was the first player in Australian Football to test positive for the anabolic steroid Boldenone. For this he was suspended sixteen games.


English bobsled Mark Tout (1961-) was suspended for life after Stanozolol was found in his urine. In 2001, that punishment was reduced to four years.


English cricket player Keith Piper (1969-) was suspended for one month for cannabis use. In 2005 he was caught a second time and for this he received a four-month suspension. His club Warwickshire, where he was active for sixteen years, threw him out after which he stopped his sports career.


In the first week of the 1997 Tour de France, 50% of the riders used corticosteroids and even 80% of the participants needed the product in the second week. Everything on medical prescription.

In 1997 Italian rider Claudio Chiappucci (1963-) confessed that he had used doping from 1993 to 1995, but later he retracted these statements. Chiappucci was 'supervised' by Professor Francesco Conconi (1935-), who had previously been accused of prescribing EPO. Conconi was found "morally" guilty, but acquitted because the crime was time-barred. The judge had looked at the medical reports of 33 cyclists from 1993-1995, including that of Chiappucci, and all blood tests showed large fluctuations in hematocrit levels, which is indicative of EPO use.

In 1997, Uzbek Djamolidine Abdoujaparov (1964-) was the first rider in the Tour de France to be disqualified for the use of Bromantan and the bronchodilator Clenbuterol. Later it became known that he had also tested positive in six other competitions. He received a year of suspension, after which he stopped his career.

Norwegian Rune Jogert (1977-) tested positive on ephedrine after the Berliner 4-Etappen-Fahrt. He was suspended for two months, fined five hundred Swiss francs and lost fifteen UCI ranking points. The Norwegian cycling federation was fined with five thousand Swiss francs because she had not informed the UCI and had not taken action against him.

Dane Michael Skelde (1973-) started cycling in 1997, but was caught in the first year on the use of testosterone.

After a positive doping test the German rider Jörg Paffrath (1967-) stopped his cycling career. In the weekly magazine `Der Spiegel 'he told how for four years he had improved his performance with 30 different medications. In February 1998, the German Cycling Federation suspended him for those confessions for life.


On December 26, 1997, French physician Yvon Arnaudo presented himself at nine o'clock in the morning at the training camp of the French national football team in Tignes for an unannounced doping test. The team leaders and players reacted bewildered. A check? Now? Unannounced? During the holidays? The situation was tense, hostile and dismissive, the doctor did not get the chance to check the selected players immediately. Apparently they were still on the road and that is why he had to wait. They were present in the hotel but did not want to show up. At six o'clock in the evening they suddenly appeared together for the doctor and everything had to be done quickly. The next day the criticism from the league and the media rained. "Tasteless controls" was the popular verdict, 'les Bleus' who were preparing for the World Cup could not be treated this way.

Bernard Lama (1963-), the goalkeeper of Paris Saint-Germain, also played for the French national team that won the 1998 World Cup and 2000 European Championship. After his return from a severe knee injury, he was suspended for two months in February 1997 because of cannabis use.

In the French football competition, four players were caught using nandrolone. Cyrille Pouget (1972-) of Le Havre AC, Dominique Arribagé (1971-) of Toulouse FC, Antoine Sibierski (1974-) of Auxerre and Vincent Guérin (1965-) of Paris SG were suspended for eighteen months, of which twelve were conditional. Due to procedural errors, the suspension of Guérin was canceled.

Turkish footballer Ayhan Akman (1977-) was suspended for six months for the use of anabolic steroids.

Colombian Albeiro Usuriaga (1966-2004), nicknamed El Palomo, played professional football in Colombia, Spain, Argentina, Mexico, Ecuador, Brazil, Paraguay and Venezuela before being murdered at the age of 37. In 1997 he was suspended for two years after a positive test for cocaine.

British footballer Adam Tanner (1973-) was suspended for three months in February 1997 after finding traces of cocaine in his blood. Two years later he committed a flight crime after a car accident. After he had been found, it appeared that he had three times the allowed concentration of alcohol in his blood. Because it was the second time, he was sentenced to 80 hours of community service and his driving license was revoked for three years.

Motor racing

Australian motorcycle racer Anthony Gobert (1975), nicknamed 'The Go Show', was a promising talent, struggling with a serious cannabis problem, for which he was also caught. He went completely down the hilll when he pulled forty dollars from a 70-year-old man's handsin a supermarket and robbed a woman the next day.


In a doping test nandrolone was found in the urine of South African rugby player Johan Ackermann (1970-) and that cost him two years of suspension.

Ski jumping

Austrian Andreas Goldberger (1972-), the first ski jumper who crossed the magical 200m border with 202m, was suspended for six months in 1997 after a positive cocaine test by the Austrian ski federation. In 2000 he pinned the world record at 250m.


During the Nordic Ski World Championship in Trondheim, Russian Lyubov Yegorova (1966-) was disqualified three days after her gold medal at the 5 km because bromotan was found in her urine. The end of her sporting career.


American tennis star Andre Agassi (1970-) later admitted that he had used metamphetamines in 1997.

Track and Field

Russian Olimpiada Ivanova (1970-) was stripped of her silver medal in the 10 kilometer walk at the 1997 World Championships in Athletics after she had tested positive for stanozolol, and she was banned for two years