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Defectors Expose E. German Doping : Two Former Sports Officials Describe Methodical Administration of Drugs

July 15, 1989|RANDY HARVEY | Times Staff Writer

Reuters quoted East German sources who said Aschenbach was caught administering drugs, probably steroids, to eight ski jumpers early last year.

But the sources also told Reuters that the articles in Bild and Bild am Sonntag had forced the DTSB to acknowledge for the first time that there is a drug problem among East German athletes.

"We have had cases of doping in (East Germany), cases where people wanted to get an advantage," one source said. "We have tried, however, to solve these problems internally. It may have been a mistake not to publicize these cases."

That is consistent with the East Germans' request last November to join the proposed drug-testing agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union. Under that proposal, U.S. doctors would verify testing of Soviet athletes and vice versa.

Soviet and U.S. officials said earlier this year at a news conference that East Germany and other countries eventually will be included, but not until the initial agreement is in effect.

Baaron Pittenger, U.S. Olympic Committee executive director, said the Bild and Bild am Sonntag series should make the USOC and the Soviets even more determined to see that the East Germans become involved.

"(The articles) confirm the feeling that performance-enhancing drugs are a major problem of international sports," he said. "That doesn't speak to the accuracy of the stories. I don't want to make any judgments at all about the East Germans. But you have to have some kind of system where there is accurate, verifiable drug testing, and that is what we are in the process of developing with the Soviets."

Since the series was published, two other former East German athletes, both defectors to the West, have made similar allegations to newspapers, one in West Germany and one in Austria.

Christine Knacke, who in 1977 became the first woman to swim the 100-meter butterfly in less than one minute, told a newspaper in Vienna, where she now lives, that drugs, including steroids, were forced upon her by East German sports officials and destroyed her health. She also blamed the physical problems of her daughter, who was born in 1983, on the drugs.

"Naturally, there is doping in East Germany, just as there is in the West," she told Kronen Zeitung. "But here (in the West), you have a chance to protect yourself against it."

Aschenbach told Bild am Sonntag that winning the gold medal at Innsbruck in 1976 was his greatest moment in sports, quickly followed by his most anxious.

"Those were the worst hours of my life," he said. "I had won at the Olympic Winter Games on the small tower. Then the doping control. My God, what I went through. Will they catch you? Or was the timing correct once again? Was everything for nothing? Will you be the one they place the blame on, the idiot that is the butt of laughter for everybody?

"Nobody can imagine what you go through. You even forget that you have won."

But only one East German athlete, a female shotputter, has ever been suspended because of a positive test for a banned substance at an international competition.

Noczenski described the precautions taken by the East Germans.

"Every athlete gets off the drugs before the competition," he said. "Before he leaves the country, cars drive criss-cross through the country to collect urine samples. They are taken to the doping lab. Only he who is clean competes. He who isn't acts as if he is injured."

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