Doping and sports - 1998


American former triathlete and chairman of the USOC Sporters Advisory Council John Ruger (1949-), stated in the magazine 'Sports',:

"Americans think too easily that the United States is the pioneer in the field of doping-free sports, but the reality is that they may be regarded as 'the dirtiest nation in the world'."

Patrick Laure, medical director of the study center for doping and drugs at the Université de Nancy, conducted a study in two thousand amateur athletes, both girls and boys older than 15, who trained for at least two hours a week. Randomly selected they represented 51 disciplines. The result makes a person stiffen, because without discrimination of sex, almost 10% of the respondents admitted the use of performance-enhancing drugs. With two clear peaks, the youth of 25 years old and the age group between 35 and 39 years. If these figures were extrapolated to the national average, Laure estimated that about a million French athletes were on the banned products and that for victory, a performance and money. In the lead with 45% were the stimulants amphetamines, caffeine and ephedrine because of their fatigue expelling properties. Then followed cannabis, painkillers (28%), corticosteroids (12%) and anabolics (3%), which was mainly used for testosterone and nandrolone. The comments of Dr. Laure:

"It always concerns medication that is not used for its specific purpose and that is often reimbursed by social security."

Another surprise was that 61% of those who had been doped admitted that they were simply supplied by their pharmacist, 20% bought the products on the black market and 15% got the stuff from their immediate surroundings. The medical world would thus be complicit, but that hypothesis was refuted by Laure:

"In reality, the prescribing physicians did not know that their patients wanted to use the products as doping. It is not difficult to feign any complaint to get a prescription. According to my sources, physicians who deliver athletes forbidden products are very low in number. At most two per department. "

Of the two hundred positive tests in France, 175 were from non-professional sports. They even discovered traces of anabolic steroids in 8-years-old children. A pupil of the fifth grade from the Vosges confessed that his doctor regularly injected him steroids.

Doping in the GDR

In April 1998, East German swimmer Christiane Knacke-Sommer (1962-) testified in an interview that her former trainers forced her to take steroids together with other swimmers, leading to excessive body hair, unnaturally developed muscles and a heavy voice. At the 1980 Olympics in Moscow she had won the bronze medal 100m butterfly. In that period she was trained by four coaches and two physicians.

Daniela Hunger (1972-), two gold medals at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul and three gold medals at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, together with other East German swimmers, accused her former trainers and physicians of SC Dynamo Berlin of systematic doping administering.

Carola Nitschke (1962-) went one step further, she turned in all her medals, including the gold medal 4 x 100m medley from the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. She also asked to be removed from the lists of honor, because she had won all those medals, albeit ignorantly, with the help of steroids.

Andrea Pollack (1961-2019) also  joined the accusations of her old teammates. At the 1976 Olympics in Montreal she had won two gold and two silver medals. Four years later in Moscow she won the 4 x 100m medley with the relay team and the silver medal 100m butterfly. In 1978 she broke the world record 200m butterfly twice. She was also a member of SC Dynamo Berlin. Andrea Pollack died in March 2019 of the effects of cancer.

In August the trainers Klaus Klemenz (1943-) (2nd from the left), Peter Matonnet (1950-) (middle) and Bernd Christochowitz (1958-) (2nd from the right) together with the sports physicians Dorit Rösler (1948-) (left) ) and Ulrich Sünder (1940-) (right) of Swimming Club TSC Berlin were indicted officially. Due to the infliction of physical injuries, they received fines ranging from 7,000 to 27,000 Deutsche Mark (= 3,500 to 13,500 Euro).

Two former sport physicians of SC Dynamo Berlin, Dieter Binus (1939-) (photo1), from 1976 to 1980 head of the women's national swimming team, and Bernd Pansold (1942-) (photo 2), in charge of the GDR sports medicine center Berlin, were sentenced by the Court because they had unlawfully administered male sex hormones to nineteen underage girls between 1975 and 1984.

In all those years virtually no East German athlete tested positive at official doping controls, but Stasi documents showed that many positive tests were recorded in the Zentrales Dopingkontroll-Labor of Sportmedizinischen Dienstes of Kreischa. In that case, the athlete was not allowed to travel. Pansold, who unofficially worked for the Stasi under the code name Jurgen Wendt but was later suspected by that organization, had compiled an extensive 647-page file from all of this, which he passed on to the newspaper 'Berliner Zeitung'.

The file contained information about more than a hundred people, including four other accused, colleague Dieter Binus (1939-) and the swimming trainers Rolf Gläser (1940-2004), Dieter Lindemann (1951-2003) and Dieter Krausse (1939-2014) , but also of the swimmers Sylvia Gerasch (1969-), Christiane Knacke-Sommer (1962-) and Katrin Meissner (1973-). He noted that the swimmers Petra Thümer (1961-), Hannelore Anke (1957-) and Petra Priemer (1961-) as well as the athlete Bärbel Wöckel (1955) received injections of testosterone about which Pansold wrote the following:

"Some of the sports physicians believe that these measures taken against the athletes are, to a certain extent, criminal acts. One may wonder to what extent the sporting leaders of the GDR are interested in pure sport."

In another place, Pansold noted:

"The hitherto known damage (eg. cancer) can not be proven at present, the possibility of prolonged or late action remains (prostate carcinoma, liver carcinoma, etc.). For socialist society, ethical problems are obviously stronger than in capitalism especially in women's performance sport, which is why winning at any price becomes the ultimate goal for women (swimming, children!), and the impetus is already visible."

Already in 1975, Pansold reported on the widespread use of anabolic steroids among participants in the children's and adolescent's Spartakiade. Afterwards, the Ministry of the Interior intervened, by reducing the hormone doses in female athletes and increasing the age limit for the administration of anabolics. In 1978 Pansold reported on a lot of doping tests.

"Esser's training group is involved in testing the newly developed anabolic steroid from Jenapharma, which is known under the name STS83. The world record holders Andrea Polack and Barbara Krause are also subjected to 'exceptional measures' with an apparently undetectable doping product. The use of 'hormone preparations for the brain' is tested on other swimmers, which would trigger flight reflexes and thus influence the speed of the swimmers."

A week after the testimonies of five of his former pupils, Rolf Gläser (1940-2004) asked for a meeting with Public Prosecutor Hillebrand. On August 26th, with his tail between his legs, he confessed to the Judge that he had given doping to female athletes between 1979 and 1984. As an excuse, he cited a lack of medical knowledge, which prevented him from seeing the consequences and that it had never been his intention to harm anyone. He apologized to his former swimmers and said that his explanation was honest. On August 31st, the Court of Appeal declared that Rolf Glaeser and Dieter Binus were guilty of nine charges of severe ill-treatment and sentenced them to fines of DM 7,200 (3,600 Euro) and DM 9,000 (4,500 Euro) respectively. The public prosecutor had asked for double that amount. Gläser accepted the verdict, Binus appealed. After that statement, Gläser was dismissed by his new employer, the Austrian Swimming Federation.

"The decision was difficult, but after his confession there was no alternative, we can no longer cooperate with him."

During the trial it became known that GDR-archives showed that Kerstin Kielgaß (1969-), European champion 800m freestyle and winner of a gold medal with the relay team 4 x 200m freestyle at the World Cup of Perth, was prepared with anabolic steroids by her trainer and former swimmer Volker Frischke (1944-).

Frischke was fined 5,000 DM (= 2,500 Euro), Lindemann 4,000 Mark and Krause 3,000 DM. Pansold appealed against his statement of 14,400 Mark but came away empty-handed.

Egon Krenz (1937-), the last state leader of the GDR and Chief of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany, had still not understood when he proclaimed:

"This is not about doping, but about revenge, because the sport of the GDR was better than that of the Bundesrepubliek."


Indonesian Sigit Budiarto (1975-) crowned himself world champion badminton in 1997. One year later he was suspended for two years for the intake of Nandrolone.


Rumors wanted American baseball player Roger Clemens (1962-) of the Toronto Blue Jays to be injected with stanozolol by strength trainer Brian McNamee (1967-).


Austrian bobsledder Hubert Schösser (1966-), in 1994 winner of the World Cup with the four-man bob, tested positive for anabolics and stopped his career.


In the region around Poitou-Charentes, a doping scandal broke out in the amateur category of the French cycling environment. A rider, whose name was not released, handed his physician a 'cocktail' that one had wanted to administer him intravenously. The analysis and contra-expertise in the Toxicology laboratories of the University Hospitals of Poitiers and Limoges showed that it was a mixture of amphetamines, painkillers, caffeine, cocaine and heroin, the so-called 'pot Belge'

21-year-old Frenchman Sébastien Grousselle (1977-1998) died during a criterion in Montereau, Seine-et-Marne in September 1998,. Witnesses saw him riding on a straight road when he suddenly fell off his bike for no apparent reason. His head hit the sidewalk with force, causing a skull fracture and several broken vertebrae. He died a few hours later. The blood analysis revealed an enormous amount of corticoids. Sports director Stéphane Gaudry and caretaker Stéphane Gicquel were indicted the following year for 'involuntary manslaughter, administration of performance-enhancing or masking substances, inciting and facilitating the use of such substances'.

Belgian ex-rider Eddy Plankaert (1958-), winner of the green jersey in the 1988 Tour de France, later confessed to the magazine 'Sport-Bild':

"I started EPO only  in 1991 ... Although there were several other good substances, EPO is indeed a great product ... I started using it when I got older and my condition was not too good anymore. I noticed a performance improvement of 12 to 15%. If one takes EPO at the height of his career, it certainly works fantastic."

The most famous doping event in cycling dates back to 1998, when the complete Festina team was kicked out of the Tour de France, after Willy Voet (1945-) was arrested by the French customs with a car full of EPO. Voet, for many years the carer for many professional riders, provided during his interrogation detailed information about the doping use within the cycling environment. Later he also told journalists the most incredible doping stories of the past forty years. These could be summarized in three periods: amphetamines in the 60s and 70s, anabolic steroids and cortisone in the 1980s, then hGH and EPO. Moreover, there were heavy doping suspicions in the late 1980s at the death of dozens of elite riders. The result of this research hit many top teams and proved to be part of a well-organized, sophisticated and long-term doping scheme. The Festina team leader confessed that some riders took banned products. As a protest against the elimination of Festina, six other teams left the Tour, including Dutch TVM. The doping scandal overshadowed the victory of Marco Pantani (1970-2004), who later was also caught.

French Festina riders Emmanuel Magnien (1971-) and Gilles Bouvard (1969-) confessed their doping use. During a check in the 2000 Tour de France, traces of cortisone were found in Magnien's urine and he was suspended for six months, half of which was conditional.

Bouvard for his part blamed his Italian teammate Rodolfo Massi (1965-), who had delivered him the forbidden stuff. Thereupon French detectives bursted into Massi's room where they found a mountain of corticosteroids, which, given the enormous quantity, could not be for his own use. It was therefore certain that he was a dealer, he was arrested and had to leave the Tour. At that moment he wore the red dot jersey and was seventh in the general ranking. The Italian Cycling Federation suspended him for six months. In the cycling environment he had the nickname 'The Pharmacist' and Bjarne Riis (1964-) later called him an ordinary drug dealer.

French world champion Laurent Brochard (1968-) was one of the Festina riders who had to leave the Tour on July 17th. Barely seven days later he confessed the use of performance-enhancing drugs. On December 15th 1998, the French cycling federation suspended him for six months.

Swiss Laurent Dufaux (1969-) also confessed the doping use seven days after his exclusion.

Although the entire Festina team had confessed, Frenchman Pascal Herve (1964-) insisted that he had never taken the forbidden stuff. He kept his innocence until 2000 when he appeared before the Court together with leader Richard Virenque (1969-). In June 2001, a few months after the end of his suspension, he was caught of doping in the Giro. He stopped with racing and started a café-restaurant in Limoges.

1994 world champion Luc Leblanc (1966-), did not find a new team after that infamous 'Tour du Dopage', in which he regularly performed as a spokesperson for the cyclists and he ended his sporting career. Later he confessed to the District Court that he had used EPO from 1992 to 1998 to prepare for the Tour de France, the Giro d'Italia and the Spanish Vuelta.

"Everything is true," he said, "but I even could have taken more to win those competitions."

Seven days after the exclusion of the entire Festina team, Swiss Armin Meier (1969-) also confessed to taking performance enhancing substances.

Frenchman Christophe Moreau (1971-) also confessed his EPO use and received only a six months suspension.

Frenchman Didier Rous (1970-) was suspended for six months after Festina was kicked out of the Tour de France. Because of a hernia, he ended his career early in 2007.

Frenchman Richard Virenque (1969-) was one of the top favorites for the final victory in the Tour de France, but had to leave the Tour with his mates on July 17th 1998. Because he was not caught, he denied his doping use at the time, but on October 24th 2000 he suddenly came up with confessions. To everyone's surprise, a French court cleared him in December 2000. A week later, however, the Swiss cycling federation sentenced him to nine months driving ban and a fine of four thousand Swiss francs. Despite his confessions and the associated suspension, he was offered a contract with Domo-Farma Frites and he surprised the entire cycling world with a win in Paris-Tours. The following year he returned to the Tour where he promptly won a stage. In 2003 and 2004 he captured the red dot jersey and he always won a stage. At the end of 2004 he finished his turbulent career and became a PR man enlisted by the Lotto team.

A week after the exclusion of the Festina team, Swiss Alex Zülle (1968-) confessed his doping use to the interrogators. Later in the courtroom he also admitted that he had used EPO for four years, including with ONCE.

"I dare to claim that the twenty men-strong sports team got EPO by Doctor Nico Torrados and a certain Jos."

He was suspended for twelve months but, like in 1999, he finished second in the final ranking of the Tour de France. In 2002 he won a stage and the final victory of the Tour of Switzerland, two stages in the Tour de Romandie, a stage and the final classification of the Tour of Valencia and a stage in the Tour of Algarve. However, he did not do well in the big rounds and in 2004 he put a point behind his sports career.

Finally, Australian Neil Stephens (1963-) also confessed his EPO use, for which he was suspended for six months, but later he was offered a job of sports director.

In the context of the investigation into the Festina team, Spanish sports physician Nicholas Cepeda-Torrados was sentenced to two months and a fine of ten thousand French francs (= 1,500 euros) for the 'illegal import of narcotics'. Torrados defended himself with the argument that he needed those products to take care of people around the ONCE team, in particular team leader Manolo Saiz (1959-) (photo), a severe asthma and allergy patient.

According to the Belgian doping expert Professor Michiel Debackere (1930-2013), the doping affair around Festina was just the tip of the iceberg.

"There is now a small part of it known, not one single rider was caught, but a whole team is suspicious, and if it is true for one team, there will be more teams, they are all guilty."

After Festina was kicked out of the Tour de France, six of the 21 remaining teams also voluntarily left the Tour, referring to unfair police tactics and maltreatment of participants. In three weeks time, the field of participants of 189 riders was reduced to less than 100.

As a result of the Festina affair, Swiss sports physician Daniel Blanc (1948-2009), who accompanied the French riders Laurent Dufaux (1969-) and Richard Virenque (1969-), asked loud and clear to gain as a sports physician more influence on medication and demanded the release of doping under medical supervision. In an interview with Swiss television he confirmed from a medical point of view his treatment of cyclists with illicit means:

"With a targeted medical treatment, sports physicians help cyclists to endure the torture of a Tour de France. I would be a cynic if I had to settle in Lausanne and want to dispel EPO. I do not do that. As far as the alleged risks are concerned ... I agree with PFC, because I do not understand how someone dares to use that drug. But the rest? I do not think that anabolics in low doses. If a rider tells me 'I lack the strength for a time trial and therefore I can not win the Tour', then maybe I can prescribe a small dose of anabolics, along with a specific training schedule of four to six weeks, with which his muscle mass gradually increases. Probably that is totally harmless to him. "

Blanc also said:

"When I increase the hematocrit value of an athlete to 60, I am not only a scammer, but also a killer. If I bring his hematocrit value from 45 to the permissible limit of 50, I think this is a help for the athlete, provided that the prescribed medicine is not dangerous "

Swiss newspaper 'Le Matin' reported that Blanc gave eight top racers, including Virenque and Dufaux, an experimental and non-forbidden treatment that normally served to cure pneumonia and furonkles. It consisted of several monthly injections of 3,500 German marks each (= 1,750 Euro), but these costs were borne by pharmaceutical giant Novartis.

Willy Voet (1945-) called the Swiss doctor 'the biggest doper of the scene'.

In an interview with the French magazine 'L'Express', Désiré Letort (1943-2012) confessed that he had used amphetamines in the 1967 Tour de France. It was his heyday and in the peloton he was called 'Monsieur Dopage'.

"In 1965 during a fall in Paris-Brussels, it suddenly came to me, about fifty riders crashed to the ground and what did I see?" Syringes and doping products were scattered on the street, and the boys tried to collect the syringes and bottles. I participated quietly ... Because I wanted to know what I was doing, I studied the Vidal, I became a bit of a specialist ... I saved a number of people who were suffocating in the middle of the night. In those cases Désiré was called in. I knew what to do."

In March Italian rider Francesco Casagrande (1970-) was caught using testosterone. He was suspended for six months, which was later increased to nine months, after which his squad Cofidis sacked him. He was caught several times on doping afterwards.

American cyclist Stephen Alfred (1968-) was caught on the use of noradosteron during the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur and was suspended for six months. In May 2006 he was caught a second time on the use of testeron and because he tested positive at hCG the month afterwards at the Pan American Games in Brazil he got eight years suspension. He continued to train, but because he refused a check one year later, he was banned for life.

In the Tour de Romandie, Swiss rider Mauro Gianetti (1964-) was saved at the very last moment after an analfylactic shock to PFC, with liver and kidney failure as side effects. Perfluorocarbon (PFC) is a product that carries oxygen and can therefore be compared with blood doping. But unlike EPO, it has no influence on the hematocrit value, it is stored very slowly but is also deadly dangerous.


During an interview, Zdenek Zeman (1947-), trainer of AS Roma and former footballer at Juventus Torino, stated that the use of doping in the Italian football competition was rampant and that the championship had a lot to thank to pharmacists. A large scandal broke out and the foreign press published the news eagerly. Raffaele Guariniello (1943-), Public Prosecutor in Turin, started an investigation in the buildings of the Rome Laboratory and found evidence that no anabolic steroids or other hormones were ever tested on which the lab was definitively closed.

British Jamie Stuart (1976-), defender and captain of football team AFC Wimbledon, was suspended for six months for a positive doping test from 1997. In January 1998, the suspension was extended by three months when it appeared that he had been on both cocaine and marijuana . He also had to be accompanied in a rehabilitation program.

As a defense, he said that someone had, in his absence, cocaine in a cigarette, but Professor David Cowan, director of the Drug Control Center at King's College in Chelsea, stressed that the test results showed that it was highly unlikely that the cocaine was consumed that way.


Spanish motorbiker Juan Garriga (1963-2015) was arrested for illegal weapon possession and drug transport. From the evidence afterwards, his trial showed that he regularly used drugs during his racing career. He died in an accident during a street race.


Australian rugby player Rodney Howe (1973-) was suspended twenty-two games after being caught on the use of stanozolol.

Australian professional rugby player Adam "Mad Dog" MacDougall (1975) tested positive on ephedrine, the amphetamine amfepramone and the anabolic steroid testosterone in July 1998. He pleaded guilty and got a suspension of eleven matches, while his team mates Robbe O'Davis (1972-) and Wayne Richards (1967-) received a twenty-two games ban for the same offense because they did not want to confess.


Multiple snooker world champion Ronnie O'Sullivan (1975) won the Irish Masters, but 'The Rocket' had to hand in the title when he was caught using marijuana.


Canadian snowboarder Ross Rebagliati (1971-), winner of the giant slalom at the Nagano Winter Olympics, was initially disqualified after a positive test for marijuana, which was not yet on the IOC list of banned drugs. The decision was cut back by the Court of Arbitration for Sport and Rebagliati got his gold medal back. Later he founded the company 'Gold, Canadian Medical Marijuana'.


The talented tennis player Petr Korda (1968-) played four grand slam finals, two in the singles and 2 in the doubles. After his win at the Australian Open, the Czech tested positive for nandrolone in Wimbledon. He was suspended for twelve months and then did not return to the professional circuit. During his career, he earned $ 10,448,450 in prize money.


In January just before the World Championships in Perth, four Chinese swimmers had swallowed the diuretic triamterene.

Olena Lapunova (1980-), a freestyle swimmer from Ukraine, tested positive for metandienone and received a four-year suspension from FINA.

Chinese backstroke swimmer Chen Yan (1979-) was suspended for four years after being caught doping during the Asian Games.

During the World Cup in March, British freestyle specialist Mike Fibbens (1968-) tested positive for benzoylecgonine, a metabolite of cocaine, which meant he could forget the 2000 Olympics of Sydney.

There was a scent surrounding the medals of Irish swimmer Michelle Smith (1969-), who won the 200 and 400m medley and the 400m freestyle at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and also won a bronze medal in the 200m butterfly. At the press conference after the final American Janet Evans (1971-), one of the beaten, aired her suspicion. That rumor was reinforced by the fact that Smith had never achieved a strong performance in the past.

Moreover, she was trained by her Dutch husband Erik de Bruin (1963-), who was caught as a discus thrower and shot putter in 1993 and was suspended for four years. In 1998, Smith also received a four-year suspension after it became apparent that she had tampered with her urine during a doping test. There was an enormous amount of pure whiskey, which could never be reached by normal consumption, but which could mask certain substances. But they also found Androstenedione, an eagerly used product by bodybuilders. Considering she was now 28, the suspension meant the end of her sporting career, and she also had to hand in the two gold and two silver medals she won during the European Championships in Seville.

Track and Field

Russian pole vaulter Denis Petushinskiy (1967-) was naturalized in 1998 to New Zealander. With a jump of 5m55 he won the silver medal for his new heimat at the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpu that year. But later he had to hand in the medal because Stanozolol had been found in his urine, after which he returned to Russia to accompany young pole-jumpers.

American 100m specialist Dennis Mitchell (1966-) was suspended for two years by the IAAF in 1998, because testosterone had been found during a test. His excuse was the wild night he had with his wife as her birthday present. The five beers and at least four times sex were accepted by the American athletics association, but not by the IAAF.

American Florence Griffith-Joyner (1959-1998), winner of the gold medal 100, 200 and 4 x 100m at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, died in her sleep on September 21st 1998. The official death cause was asphyxiation due to a severe epileptic seizure, due to an inborn vasoconstriction in the brain. But Flo-Jo was in the past often suspected of doping, although this was never proven. Belgian Prince Alexandre de Merode (1934-2002), chairman of the Medical Commission of the IOC, stressed that the famous doping specialist Manfred Donike (1933-1995) never found the slightest trace of drugs in the urine of the American. In 1996 during a flight to Los Angeles she had already had a stroke, but at the request of the family it was concealed. Shortly after the finals of the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, Brazilian Joaquim Cruz (1963-), winner of the gold 800 meters at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, claimed that the Griffith-Joyner chronos could only result the use of steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs, because her physique was drastically changed and her performance was greatly improved in a short time. Before the 1988 season, she ran the 100m in 10.96, during a meeting in Indianapolis just before the Olympics she took 0.47 seconds of the best time, a new world record that still stands 30 years later. Her best chrono on the 200m was 21,96 before the Olympics, during the finals in Seoul she succeeded 21.34, or an improvement of 0.62 seconds. That time too is still the world record 30 years later. After the Seoul Olympics she stopped her sports career.

Norwegian shot putter and discus thrower Kjell Ove Hauge (1969-) confessed the use of anabolics and stopped his sporting career.

In Germany former shot putter Ralf Reichenbach (1950-1998) died of cardiac arrest, which was linked to his anabolical history. At the 1974 European Championships in Rome he had won the silver medal and at that time he had clearly proclaimed that he would eagerly die ten years earlier if it meant he could become an Olympic champion with anabolic use.

Russian shot putter Vita Pavlysh (1969-) had to hand in the gold medal she won at the World Indoor Championships, because she tested positive for stanozolol. Five years later at the same World Indoor Championships, the same thing happened again and that meant a lifelong suspension.