The 1970s was a dark era for East German sport, as authorities perpetrated a policy of mass doping the country’s young athletes. Politicians and the secret police gave their support for the project while state-employed coaches carried out the dirty deeds. The drugs worked, with the East Germans becoming a match for the U.S. and Soviet Union — especially in the swimming pool, where East Germany broke several records.
But with the medals came horrible side effects, including liver cancer, organ damage, psychological defects, hormonal changes and infertility. It was only after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 that athletes came forward to tell their side of the story. Germany’s legal system has taken action, giving suspended sentences and fines to doctors and coaches and compensation to athletes, though many feel that’s not enough. And other sports have been subsequently tarnished too — notably cycling, where the Tour de France has seemingly become better known for its doping scandals of recent years than its incredible feats of endurance.