Join Now  | 
Home About Contact Us Privacy & Security Advertise
Soccer America Daily Soccer World Daily Special Edition Around The Net Soccer Business Insider College Soccer Reporter Youth Soccer Reporter Soccer on TV Soccer America Classifieds Game Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalk Soccer America Confidential Youth Soccer Insider World Cup Watch
RSS Feeds Archives Manage Subscriptions Subscribe
Order Current Issue Subscribe Manage My Subscription Renew My Subscription Gift Subscription
My Account Join Now
Tournament Calendar Camps & Academies Soccer Glossary Classifieds
German doping report: Inconclusive but worrying
by Paul Gardner, August 9th, 2013 1:32AM
Subscribe to SoccerTalk with Paul Gardner

TAGS:  germany


By Paul Gardner

Drugs again. Since the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, we've learned a lot about the state-sponsored doping schemes that the East Germans set up to ensure that their Olympic athletes were always among the best.

Now comes the shock. We’re discovering that it wasn’t just East German athletes who used performance-enhancing drugs. The West Germans were playing the same game. It has leaked out that a report, prepared at Berlin’s Humboldt University, details such activity in West Germany. It also contains the allegation that state-sponsored research into performance-enhancing drugs -- such as anabolic steroids, testosterone, oestrogen and EP -- became “systematic” in the early 1970s.

News that might be greeted with a shrug by the soccer community. Because, when it comes to doping, soccer’s history is a remarkably clean one. As it happened, just three days before the leak about the West German activities, FIFA’s chief medical officer, Dr. Jiri Dvorak had publicly stated his confidence that “there is no systematic doping in soccer. There is no systematic doping culture in soccer. I am confident of this. Of course there are individual cases, for sure. We do more than 30,000 sampling procedures every year and we have between 70 to 90 positive cases, most of them for marijuana and cocaine and we have also anabolic steroids, but these are individual cases.”

A statement that, I think, rings true for most people. There are plenty of doping scandals in other sports -- cycling and the various Olympic disciplines, and most recently, baseball -- but not in soccer.

Now, out of the blue, comes the German report as a reminder that it’s never a good idea to be too certain of anything in the volatile world of sports. Because the leaked report, while it appears to be mainly concerned with Olympic athletes, does contain a mention of soccer.

At the moment, the facts are rather hazy, because only parts of the report are available. The study, commissioned by the German Federal Institute for Sport Science (BISp), was supposed to have been published last year, but concerns about privacy and legal issues delayed that. But after parts of it were published in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper, pressure grew for the full report to be issued, and for names to be named, if only to clear those athletes who were clean. Earlier this week the German government announced that the legal problems were no longer problems, and released the full report.

Not so, said the Sueddeutsche Zeitung, claiming that chunks of the report were still being held back. So the soccer mentions remain vague. The most titillating of them concerns the 1966 World Cup, in which the Germans reached the final where they lost to England. That World Cup was also the first one to include drug-testing.

According to the report, a letter exists, from FIFA’s then medical officer, Dr. Mihailo Andrejevic, informing the German Athletic Association president, Max Danz, that traces of the banned stimulant ephedrine had been detected in the urine of three West German players.

That may not sound like a big deal -- traces of a drug in three players of a team that, 47 years ago, didn’t win anyway -- but it is worrying because there is a history here.

When the West Germans won their first World Cup in 1954 -- defeating the heavily favored Hungarians -- there were immediate accusations that their players had been receiving special injections. Reports in Italy claimed that several of the German players had come down with jaundice.

In 2004 a German television documentary established that injections were indeed given to the players -- the team doctor, now 84, had admitted as much, but said the injections were nothing more than vitamin C. He also allowed that the jaundice that affected eight players might have spread because the hypodermic needles were not properly sterilized.

All this proves nothing, but it is worrying because it is suggestive. If both the 1966 and the 1954 teams (and the Germans did win that one) are under a cloud, where does that leave the 1974 team, World Cup winners at a time when the leaked report suggests that doping in West Germany had become “systematic”?

And how very odd that the 1982 West German World Cup team arrived in Spain accompanied by stories that they were using a newly developed drink called MS-61, which contained ginseng and “biocatalysts” and which was supposed to help ward off fatigue. That year, the Germans were again in the final -- but they were the ones who looked tired in losing the final to Italy.

The fact that no one paid much attention to this miracle drink tells you that drug-testing, in 1982, was not yet taken too seriously. Things have changed mightily since then. FIFA and Dr. Dvorak keep a much tighter watch on the doping scene now.

  1. Bobby Bluntz
    commented on: August 9, 2013 at 8:40 a.m.
    Strange that PG would focus on such old systematic doping allegations focusing on stimulants when we have two recent examples of serious doping in CONCACAF. Mexico and Jamaica both have recent doping histories and not a mention?
  1. Andres Yturralde
    commented on: August 9, 2013 at 9:45 a.m.
    If you're not cheating, you're not trying? And it's only cheating if you don't get caught?
  1. Andres Yturralde
    commented on: August 9, 2013 at 9:46 a.m.
    << correction >> And it's only cheating if you get caught?
  1. Millwall America
    commented on: August 9, 2013 at 10:47 a.m.
    I've always found it interesting that there doesn't seem to be much doping in soccer. In a sport where match-fixing runs rampant you'd think people would take every angle they could think of to cheat. Maybe the theory is that putting on 10 extra pounds of muscle is unproductive because it just gives the player 10 more pounds of body weight to carry around the field for 90 minutes? Messi and Neymar aren't exactly built like Arnold Schwarzenegger, so maybe being a wall of muscle doesn't particularly help you play the game.
  1. Millwall America
    commented on: August 9, 2013 at 10:54 a.m.
    I would add, good column by PG on an issue that doesn't get a lot of attention but maybe should be considered more often by the sport's fans & governing bodies.
  1. robert humphrey
    commented on: August 13, 2013 at 9:42 p.m.
    Look everyone takes some type of performance enhancer on the higher levels. Kids do stuff like Oxydrene and low grade enhancers bought right out of GNC. Then other kids take aderol before they play. People have all types of ways they work the system in American. In Europe the doping is so evident it is sad people can say otherwise. If you read "Inverting the Pyramid" by Jonathan Wilson or Williamson? He talks about the steroid race between the Soviets and the Dutch in the 70's. Then how many Dutch players have been banned or tested positive? Stamm Davids Overmars. Then how about "Neymar" being devoid of enough red bloods cell and when you replenish that is that not definition of "blood doping"?
  1. robert humphrey
    commented on: August 13, 2013 at 9:49 p.m.
    Messi is built better then someone on any steroid. Are you all serious "steroids" is an umbrella term for "ergogenic aid" meaning a wide spectrum. Baseball and other body builders take stuff like "winstrol" a steroid frequently used in race horses and cyclists that make tendons tighter for more snap and power but often causes problems with pulls. But in soccer it is endurance enhancing Drugs. Watch Neymar he will put on 15 lbs of mass this year. look at all the quads or stamina of barcelona athletes. How about Rafa Nadal from Barca and ripped quads like a linbebacker. Or the original Ronaldo blamed the knee injuries on PSV shooting him up. How about Rio Ferdinand missing that drug test "he claimed pot" but banning for "pot 6 months and can train" but yet he chose to miss it which was automatic "one year ban and from training grounds". Which would you choose the year or 6 months unless it was steroids?

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now



Recent SoccerTalk with Paul Gardner
The Gnat's Eyebrow and other VAR stupidities     
The trial of video-assistance for referees currently under way at the Confederations Cup in Russia cannot ...
That Goal    
It was Pele who started the "soccer is beauty" theme. He titled his autobiography -- one ...
Tab Ramos paints a rosy American future in the changing U-20 World Cup -- but a U-18 World Cup would make more sense     
Tab Ramos has been talking in glowing terms of his team and its adventures at the ...
What's this? A goalkeeper penalized for rough play?     
Meet Sorin Stoica. Maybe you've seen him in action during MLS games. Not a highly paid ...
Scots wha hae! Thoughts on the sad and ominous decline of Scottish soccer    
I note, with considerable exasperation tempered by sadness, that Scottish soccer is experimenting with a marvelous ...
Celebrity coaches -- who needs them?     
I am still finding it difficult to come to terms with the extraordinary way in which ...
Wenger must stay -- even the stats agree     
Arsene Wenger should stay. That's what I think. And I think that way because I respect ...
Violent Goalkeeping (Part 2): FIFA must radically rethink the goalkeeper's role    
Last time, I asked: "What action has soccer taken to at least reduce the incidence of ...
Violent Goalkeeping (Part 1): Players at risk as soccer ignores its own rules    
Goalkeepers, we are told, need protection. No doubt we all agree. Up to a point.
The triumphant return of Bruce Arena    
Well, take that Jurgen Klinsmann. Never at any time during his five years in charge of ...
>> SoccerTalk with Paul Gardner Archives