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Time wall came down on old GDR record

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  • Time wall came down on old GDR record

    D21 GDR Doping

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    Time wall came down on old GDR records

    Legacy of mass doping still stands over 30 years down the road

    Marira Koch: the GDR sprinter is still credited with breaking 30 world records.

    By: Ian O'Riordan
    Sun, Apr 28, 2013, 14:53
    First published: Sat, Apr 27, 2013, 06:00
    There is only so much Warren Zevon one man should play in one week. As good as Excitable Boy still sounds, it’s important to ration listening, in order to retain its musical staying power.

    So, for someone without a television, that means turning on the radio, opening the half door, and pointing the aerial towards the flashing red light that tops the old transmitting mask, just over the valley gap, on Kippure.

    As long as there aren’t too many sheep in the way the range of reception is incredible, including BBC Radio 5 Live – and I tuned in on Wednesday evening just in time for their 90-minute special The Record Fakers.

    No one needs reminding of the scary illegitimacy of the records set in the old East German era, but this was compulsive listening, a perfectly timed debate on how – or rather why – these and similarly ancient records are still in the books.

    The Record Fakers was motivated by the 30 years that have passed since the first IAAF World Championships, in Helsinki in 1983, ahead of this summer’s World Championships, set for Moscow, and you know what they say about the more things change . . .

    Back then, the good old GDR were essentially unbeatable, topping the medal table in Helsinki (winning 22, including 10 gold):

    “We were a large experiment, a big chemical field test, a stolen childhood,” said Ines Geipel
    (select: translation option), a former world record holder in the women’s sprint relay.

    Geipel is now desperate to emancipate herself from her past, to cleanse her records from the books, and wishes in vain more of her former team mates would do the same.

    Heidi/Andreas Krieger

    Then there was former GDR shot putter Andreas Krieger, easily confused with Heidi Krieger, given he/she are actually the same person.

    In 1986, aged only 21 and beefed up on bottles of testosterone, Heidi Krieger won the women’s shot putt at the European Championships, in Stuttgart: she never failed a drugs test, yet her steroid abuse resulted in such brute masculinity that in 1997 she underwent sex reassignment surgery, and so became Andreas.

    “They played God with us back then,” he/she recalled. “I still say today that they killed Heidi, that I was thrown out of my gender.”

    It was impossible not to feel some sympathy, that these weren’t simply dopers in the modern Lance Armstrong sense, but victims of a systematic doping programme the scale of which may never be fully realised, even long after the release of the so-called Stasi files.

    The Record Fakers actually suggested all this was a crime against humanity:

    “That’s the least it was,” said Prof Werner Franke, a long-term campaigner for full recognition of the severity of the old GDR doping regime, and why it’s so important to erase all records associated with it.