Too Little, Too Late; Wrong GDR Target; & What Of Kipke?

GDR, state plan 14:25: victims of abuse included young athletes used as guinea pigs

Comment: Stripped!, reads the banner of a campaign to have all GDR results cancelled, red background, tabloid typeface, exclamation mark and all. It might also have read ‘Abused Twice!” for victims now victims all over again. The truth of the GDR story should be acknowledged not rammed in the faces of victims with the same vigour as it took Kipke and his cronies to ram needles in their butts; we should not wipe out history – it happened; what we can do is honour those robbed of their rightful place and adjust the books with every footnote necessary to make sport an honest place for future generations while treating victims on all sides with the dignity and recognition that they deserve

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Thank you for a thought provoking and heartfelt article Craig.

Craig Lord

Thank you DSF

Bill Bell

Mein Fuehrer, vat vas I to do?

I only followed zee orders!

Zay told me to juice so I juiced. Und zen zay told me if I DIDN’T juice I vould
be juiced so i juiced again!

Mein Fuehrer, vat vuz I to do?

I only followed zee orders!

Zee orders, Mein Fuehrer, zee orders!

— Zee “good” Dr. Kicke


Thank you for an excellent article.

Craig Lord

Calm down Bill 🙂

Craig Lord

Thank you MPalota


Great article.
It would be wonderful to see medals and honours adjusted.

Imagine the women’s 200 fly at Montreal being adjusted from:
1. Pollack (GDR)
2. Tauber (GDR)
3. Kother-Gabriel (GDR)
* Pollack (GDR)
* Tauber (GDR)
* Kother-Gabriel (GDR)
1. Moe-Thornton (USA)
2. Quirk (CAN)
3. Gibson (CAN)

Craig Lord

Yes… W’slug, that’s it

Lane Four

Craig, this is FANTASTIC. Years ago, I was lucky to purchase a video documentary (which I no longer have) called The Swim Wonder. It was nothing more than a propaganda piece put out by the DDR government following the Berlin Dynamo Swim Club during the summer of 1978. Of course, as successful as the team was in June of 1978, they were about to be destroyed at the World Championships by Caulkins and Company. After that debacle, the DDR team was never challenged again until the Wall came down.
Many times I read through old Swimming Worlds and look at the results from worlds and Olympics and remove ALL of the DDR names from the medal placings and insert the true winners (as well as the Chinese names from 1988 to 1998).
Your article brought back so many memories of talks I had with American and British swimmers who were victimized by the DDR doping system.
I will never give up hope that the swimmers who lost their absolute and true placings will be vindicated. But a friend reminded me of the expression, “Live in hope, die in despair.”
I hope it does not come to that.
Again, thank you for this masterpiece! Bravo, my friend. Bravo!

mister clive

“Every federation in the world could and should honour those affected by events.”
I wonder why none have done so? Just one federation taking this step may start a trend and they could each do it independently of the “I see no ships,” stance of their international governing bodies. There are many representatives on those international bodies from countries directly affected by the skewed medal tables. I wonder why they have never stood up and spoken out for national recognition for those athletes?

Craig Lord

Clive – I think that in some cases, at least, it is a case of not wanting to rock political boats on their own voyage through a system that often rewards the easy nod and rejects challenge. Disappointing that there has been such a shortage of best leadership qualities.


As you point out, individual swimmers were not the only ones affected. Consider the impact that this had on the Canadian programme being the only country to host a summer Olympics and not win a single gold medal! That’s not just swimming, but in all sports!
Now imagine what a difference it would have made to future results had the swimming team won 3 Gold, 7 silver and 5 Bronze medals as opposed to the record books which show just 2 silvers and 6 bronze. Funding, self esteem and coaching confidence would all have been vastly different.
Clearly the ensuing results were also greatly tainted by the Soviet Union and other prominent iron curtain countries not to mention China and you only have to look at the results of Michelle Smith to realize the incredible effect that doping can have with (no offense) ordinary swimmers.
I just wish we could be confident that it no longer part of the equation.


Thanks Craig. Very nice. I feel sorry for the other countries swimmers who were cheated and for the GDR women. I definitely don’t feel sorry for those who administered the PEDs and think they should have paid a higher penalty. However, for those of us who think it should have been easy to say “no” to doing this type of thing….i just wonder if put in the same circumstance who of us might have been able to do so at the risk of losing a lot in a place that was as horrible as East Germany? Not justifying at all what they did…just wondering what it was like. When i read about people who did this, who went against the status quo at their own peril (Mandela, Rosa Parks, Schindler, etc.) you realize they were the few who were extraordinary. Most of us are not extraordinary. Just wondering.

I also wonder why they never did the same with their men?


Spare a thought for some of the women in international athletics, they still have the records standing. Valery Adams virtually unbeaten since 2007 in shot put and still only about the 30th best of all time.

There would be issues in obtaining medals for the 4th plus place getters. I know NZ bike rider Bruce Biddle finished 4th in Munich road race only for one of the medalists to be disqualified. He was not and never will be promoted to 3rd as he was not required to submit to a drug test as fourth place finisher. Despite heavy lobbying the IOC refuses to upgrade this medal. I imagine the same would be of swimming.

Craig Lord

Rob, yes, It is the same … and even when on GDR swimmer sat in front of Samaranch, pushed her medals across the table, said ‘these don’t belong to me… only to see him push them back and say words to the effect ‘you weren’t the only ones’.

Craig Lord

Thanks JMAN…

Fear (as well as cultural ‘education’) was a big factor: there are a lot of cases where athletes would be threatened, families visited by the stasi and so on, to make the point that if you did chose to do a runner (let alone ‘tell all’), those closest to you would pay a price.

On the men: they did do it with men too but the impact was far less (much more ‘efficient’ in sport to get women to be more like men, so to speak): fellow journalist Raik Hannemann, a medley medal winner for the GDR, wrote a good book about it all and his experience. Here’s the AP archive on that story:
best, Craig

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