Views & Reviews Review of the Week

Doping in sport—a warning from history

BMJ 2007; 335 doi: (Published 20 September 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:618
  1. Domhnall Macauley, general practitioner, Belfast
  1. domhnall.macauley{at}

    East German athletes who were doped to win gold medals in 1976 Olympics now struggle with chronic health problems. Domhnall Macauley reviews a new documentary

    Sport is tough, mean, and uncompromising. With national, social, and political gains for an emerging nation in the postwar era, sport was an obvious playground to express superiority. The German Democratic Republic looked coldly at what was required and did it. Potential medal winners were selected at an early age for sports school, trained, and prepared systematically. Coaches were rewarded by performance, and every aspect of the athletes' progress was recorded. East German athletes were prepared, organised, and comprehensively monitored throughout their sporting career. It was no surprise, therefore, that systematic drug use was part of this preparation. In 1974 “sports theme plan 1425” began with the aim of achieving medals in the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. The East German team won 40 gold medals, and its female swimmers, in particular, were dominant, winning 11 of the 13 events.

    This programme charted the lives of individual athletes and the price they paid for sporting achievement. Ute Krause and Rica …

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