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what happened to the Eastern Bloc athletes doped?

(22 Posts)
vivariumvivariumsvivaria Tue 19-Jan-21 12:16:22

I listened to Sharron Davies' pod on filia {{https://filia.org.uk/podcasts/2020/6/26/filia-meets-olympian-swimmer-sharron-davies}}

She mentioned that some of her peers from Eastern Bloc who were doped had died prematurely.

Do we know what they were taking and what they died of?

I'm assuming that their doping is similar to cross sex hormones in that it'll put a female body into premature menopause and increase the (well documented) risks of cardiovascular disease, dementia and osteoporosis.

I can't seen that these risks are reduced because a female bodied person has a gender difference or gender dysphoria. I am sure that long term cross sex hormones will damage female bodied people, no matter how they identify - so, presumably, the doping of athletes in the 80s could be looked at to see what the long term impact?

Anyone seen anything? I'm assuming it's quite hard to access information from those countries about that time. I don't think any of them ever admitted to doping their athletes?

OP’s posts: |
ItsDinah Tue 19-Jan-21 12:42:49

If you do a google search for East German Swimming Team,doping,you will find lots of information about the testosterone doping of a range of athletes in East Germany. Post unification of Germany,the German government set up an inquiry,some of the doctors involved were convicted of doping children as young as 8 and a number of the athletes involved were paid compensation.

OldCrone Tue 19-Jan-21 12:51:53

Heidi Krieger (East German shot putter in the 1980s) is now known as Andreas.

The taking of pills and injections of anabolic steroids created virile features and heightened confusion about an already uncertain sexual identity, Krieger said, influencing a decision to have a sex-change operation in 1997 and to become known legally as Andreas.

www.nytimes.com/2004/01/26/sports/drug-testing-east-german-steroids-toll-they-killed-heidi.html

Krieger has also suffered from a number of health problems due to the doping.

NecessaryScene1 Tue 19-Jan-21 12:59:33

Not found any in-depth articles, but here's one - not as good as OldCrone's

www.swimmingworldmagazine.com/news/memories-of-moscow-1980-a-games-of-many-monsters-of-the-waves-in-a-sea-of-harm-heist/

Schneider was among those who faced her abusers in court in 1999 and received token compensation for the crimes committed against her. Years of suffering severe side effects of the steroids followed retirement from racing. Speaking at her home, with boxes of tablets and treatments piled up on a cupboard nearby, she told this author in 2007: “Everyday I have to take medicine for the health problems caused by the things they gave me.”

Her sentiment was echoed by Reinisch when facing her abusers in court in 1999: “I live with pain constantly. I have inflammations of my ovaries, I have had two miscarriages, I am required to take beta-blockers for my heart arrhythmia. I live with pain daily.”

When Reinisch left Moscow she was suffering from serious stomach pains. Her coach Uwe Neumann, who had given her “little blue pills in a chocolate box”, took her to see a Dr Loeffler at a Dresden clinic. He explained to her that she had inflamed ovaries, caused by high dosages of steroids. Reinisch was instructed not to mention this to her parents or family doctor. In 1999, during the German doping trials in which several coaches and doctors, including Lothar Kipke, former FINA Medical Commission member and Silver Pin winner, were convicted of bodily harm to under-age athletes, Reinisch, said: “What makes me sad is that I will never know how good I could have been.”

(I do not find it inconceivable that many names we are familiar with might find themselves in trials in future years, and there will be articles like this about their victims.)

HecatesCats Tue 19-Jan-21 13:10:39

OldCrone

Heidi Krieger (East German shot putter in the 1980s) is now known as Andreas.

The taking of pills and injections of anabolic steroids created virile features and heightened confusion about an already uncertain sexual identity, Krieger said, influencing a decision to have a sex-change operation in 1997 and to become known legally as Andreas.

https://www.nytimes.com/2004/01/26/sports/drug-testing-east-german-steroids-toll-they-killed-heidi.html

Krieger has also suffered from a number of health problems due to the doping.


An estimated 500 to 2,000 former East German athletes are believed to be experiencing significant health problems associated with steroids, including liver tumors, heart disease, testicular and breast cancer, gynecological problems, infertility, depression and eating disorders. Some female athletes have reported miscarriages and have had children born with deformities like club feet.

Oh my goodness that article is a difficult read.

Rubidium Tue 19-Jan-21 13:42:25

This documentary about East German athletes who were doped in the 1970s and 1980s is worth a watch: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mj2or8lLLaY It features the shot-putter Andreas/ Heidi Krieger as mentioned by PP.

The drug they were given was the synthetic testosterone analogue Oral Turinabol, so the women frequently developed masculine characteristics. I have a distinct memory from about 1980-81 of turning on the TV about half way through a Grandstand interview with an East German swimmer, and it was only when they showed some footage of her swimming while wearing a full length costume that it became clear that she was a woman, because she had a very deep voice and a square jaw. Being a kid I at the time I found this very confusing. Looking back I think the swimmer was probably Petra Schneider, who beat Sharron Davies to the gold medal at the Moscow Olympics.

vivariumvivariumsvivaria Tue 19-Jan-21 15:01:00

Bloody hell.

I'd like to see Susie Greene's take on this.

WHY is it different to what the Tavistock have been doing? The motivations are different, but, the bodies are exactly the same.

My DDs friend is on testosterone. I've known that child since birth, and they deserve to be happy and healthy. I'm not at all convinced that the cross sex hormones will provide that.

OP’s posts: |
NecessaryScene1 Tue 19-Jan-21 15:09:20

WHY is it different to what the Tavistock have been doing?

The two fundamental differences I see are (a) the assertion that the children understand what is being done to them and that they assent on that basis and (b) that this is being done for the child's benefit.

This is then why they fight the Keira Bell case suggesting children can't understand, and they resist any proper research that might show children don't benefit.

Their behaviour sometimes seems irrational, but it's makes sense for people who know that others have been convicted for the same actions, and have to maintain their defence.

PotholeParadies Tue 19-Jan-21 16:09:17

Good question.

Flo-Jo Joyner, the American sprinter whose records set in 1988 still remain unbroken, died prematurely at 38. It's easy to draw certain conclusions from that concatenation of circumstances...

SqueakyCarrots Tue 19-Jan-21 16:16:22

The article makes it sound like kreiger wasn’t trans (just uncertain sexual identity) yet hormones caused the need to transition.

That has even more serious implications for the self fulfilling nature of prescribing.

vivariumvivariumsvivaria Tue 19-Jan-21 18:00:30

Flo Jo died at 38? Bloody hell.

Thanks for the wisdom and links. I've got some direction to do some digging in.

There must be evidence that cross sex hormones harm adult females - we've seen it on our tv 40 years ago and have lots of evidence that premature loss of oestrogen is bad for females.

I'm really worried about all of this. I don't want to see hoardes of young female bodied people get ill, so many of them are self medicating because the clinic waiting lists are so long - who knows how many of them there are?

OP’s posts: |
HecatesCats Tue 19-Jan-21 18:11:31

SqueakyCarrots

The article makes it sound like kreiger wasn’t trans (just uncertain sexual identity) yet hormones caused the need to transition.

That has even more serious implications for the self fulfilling nature of prescribing.


Excellent point. Social transition + puberty blockers = inevitable pathway to csh & surgery (not a pause).

SqueakyCarrots Tue 19-Jan-21 18:17:13

Viva- synthetic female hormones carry risks for women in themselves (breast cancer, blood clots). Even things that affect female hormones can carry risk- spearmint tea, often used to help with acne, can pose health risk similar to spiro. Hormones are so fucking sensitive as is adding in synthetic male ones must carry the fuck truck of risks.

GrinitchSpinach Tue 19-Jan-21 19:08:12

4thWaveNow published an interesting article in 2018 that links to several sources about these athletes—and describes the harsh consequences faced by American swimmer Shirley Babashoff for speaking up at the time.

4thwavenow.com/2018/04/15/surly-shirley-and-the-assault-on-womens-sport-then-and-now/

TheLoneRager Tue 19-Jan-21 19:56:59

former East German athletes are believed to be experiencing significant health problems associated with steroids, including liver tumors, heart disease, testicular and breast cancer, gynecological problems, infertility, depression and eating disorders.

I don't want to see hoardes of young female bodied people get ill, so many of them are self medicating because the clinic waiting lists are so long - who knows how many of them there are?

This is just one area of concern - how many? Because I suspect that many individuals who suffer illness or die prematurely as a result of taking these drugs will not get reported as having suffered illness and disease most probably caused by the hormones they have been taking. There will be poor or non existent records for those who have self medicated or used private prescribers, and even where the treatment is known about, will medical practitioners link, say heart disease or stroke to those medications and report to the relevant authorities (eg a pharmaceutical yellow card)?

I do know of one case of liver cancer, the person had been on testosterone for four years. The first thing the oncologist recommended was to discontinue taking testosterone.
I highly doubt the case has been reported. Maybe it's coincidental, how could it be proved otherwise? So where will the body of evidence come from?

AnnaBronskisSkirts Tue 19-Jan-21 20:58:43

DD's friend's dad had his growth stunted so he could be a gymnast in East Germany. He's shorter than me, has joint problems and just had both his knees replaced.

This is from German Wikipedia:

DDR doping victims die on average ten to twelve years earlier than the normal population. In addition, they fall ill 2.7 times as often; for mental illnesses, the factor is 3.2. Added to this are "second-generation victims": for example, there is a "conspicuous accumulation of damaged children of these mothers and fathers who were athletes in the GDR". In 2018, there were around 200 known cases of children suffering consequential damage.
Doping in der DDR – Wikipedia

MoleSmokes Wed 20-Jan-21 05:54:40

SqueakyCarrots

The article makes it sound like kreiger wasn’t trans (just uncertain sexual identity) yet hormones caused the need to transition.

That has even more serious implications for the self fulfilling nature of prescribing.

Maybe even worse than that. Possibly Heidi did not have any doubts about her identity but felt forced to "reclassify" as a man, after her coach surreptitiously doped her with testosterone and it masculinised her so much that she knew that she would never pass as a woman?

"Andreas Krieger was a German shot putter who competed as a woman on the East German athletics team. Born “Heidi”, Krieger was given anabolic steroids by coaches from a very young age without his knowledge. So masculinized by the drugs his coaches gave him, Krieger later chose to become a man undergoing a sex-change operation to become Andreas Krieger. Krieger retired from the sport in 1990 and underwent sex reassignment surgery in 1997. He has publicly said that he wishes he hadn't been drugged so that he could have discovered for himself what his gender preference was."

From

"Top 15 Famous Transgender Athletes"

(Note: not all are transgender despite the title.)

www.thesportster.com/entertainment/top-15-famous-transgender-athletes/

OldCrone thank you for the link to that NY Times article - it is horrific but absolutely required reading:

"DRUG TESTING; East German Steroids' Toll: 'They Killed Heidi'"

www.nytimes.com/2004/01/26/sports/drug-testing-east-german-steroids-toll-they-killed-heidi.html

vivariumvivariumsvivaria - thank you for asking this question. It is so bleeding obvious that it needs to be asked now you have posed it! confused

This is the sort of thing that Louis sodding Theroux should be investigating, instead of pissing about interviewing nonentity knackers like Frankie 'effin Boyle!

MedusasBrandyButter Wed 20-Jan-21 14:05:56

One of the worst things I've read about the East german doping regime was the non-team athletes on whom the doping was tested, so the designated athletes wouldn't be ruined unnecessarily. They got the worst of the doping, and no testing regime would have ever detected the abuse and saved them (and of course, there were no sporting "rewards": they were purely and simply used).

Does anyone else remember this detail? I've read Shirley Babashoff's memoir, so it could have been there, but I can't find it now.

vivariumvivariumsvivaria Wed 20-Jan-21 14:56:12

Oh my goodness, Medusa! That makes sense, but, good grief.

My jaw dropped.

OP’s posts: |
NonnyMouse1337 Wed 20-Jan-21 14:56:13

I'm glad this thread is highlighting the issue, but it is so sad and awful to read what has happened to many of these athletes. Their lives ruined. sad

MedusasBrandyButter Wed 20-Jan-21 16:25:35

vivariumvivariumsvivaria

Oh my goodness, Medusa! That makes sense, but, good grief.

My jaw dropped.

Finally found a reference!

www.stateofswimming.com/a-waking-nightmare-for-womens-sport/

Oral Turinabol was just part of the poisonous cocktail of substances administered not only to medal-winning ‘ambassadors in tracksuits’ but to many who were never destined to make it beyond the Berlin Wall. Like the bulk of good but not world-class swimmers in the world, they were club swimmers – but with a dark difference; they served as human guinea pigs to test the effectiveness of substances that had never been clinically trailed in labs before bing administered to the athletes.

[and further down, under the headline State Plan 14:25]

State Plan 14:25 held that children (for many of those doped, particularly in sports such as swimming, were under age) would be doped with substances such as anabolic steroids, some never clinically tested on animals before human guinea pigs were plied with them, and without the knowledge or consent of their parents. The 1966 blueprint refers to the drugs as “Unterstutzenden Mitteln“, or “supporting means”. The blueprint would not be signed as official policy until 1974 but experimentation on athletes started much earlier – certainly from 1971 with research for the plan dating back to the mid 1960s. It was the biggest pharmacological experiment in sports history.

The drugs, administered by doctors and coaches, included Oral-Turinabol, a synthetic anabolic agent developed for cancer patients; testosterone derivatives; and “STS 646“, a drug considered too dangerous to licence inside the GDR but given to teenagers before being tested on lab rats. “The pills came in a box of chocolates,” Catherine Menschner would say in court in 1999. You are unlikely to know her name. By the time she spoke she had suffered seven miscarriages in the years after quitting the sport in which she was fed a diet of drugs but not for international glory. “I was a guinea-pig. I was used to test drugs for better athletes so they could win for the GDR,” she said.

Binglebong Thu 21-Jan-21 00:11:35

Wow. Powerful article.

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