Did you know what you are doing? (neue-deutschland.de)

The brochure is around 30 pages long and tells the story of Sigurd Hanke, for example. The six-time GDR champion over various swimming disciplines swallowed doping substances from 1981. “We didn’t know what kind of substances there were,” says Hanke in this collection of texts about himself and athletes like him. Actually, he just knew that what he was getting had something to do with male hormones. In addition, that he sometimes got medications that had such a big impact that he was suspicious even then. “In the case of colds there were syringes called ‘cocktails’,” Hanke is quoted in the brochure. “Who knows what was in there – in any case, after an abnormally short time, you were fit again for training.”

The title of the brochure: “Together from the shadow into the light”. It was presented a few days ago in Erfurt and goes back to a conference in Bad Blankenburg in 2019: “Doping and its consequences: Use of performance-enhancing agents in competitive sport in the former GDR and its effects” was the name of it. Correspondingly, the 30 pages of the publication revolve around precisely these connections.

Rather in the middle of the brochure, after Hanke has listed which chemical substances, as a top GDR athlete, had definitely or perhaps been administered to him in the 1980s – including paracetamol, analgin, ibuprofen, somatotropin, thioctacid, vitamin C, potassium-magnesium -Adipat, Dynvital powder – he asks a question. For himself, but also for the reader of his descriptions. It is one of the most crucial questions for all those who deal with doping in GDR sport. One that, from the point of view of many people, has not yet been conclusively answered: “Am I a victim?”

A new high point in coming to terms with GDR sport

The little booklet marks a high point in dealing with doping in top-class GDR sport, most certainly in Thuringia and perhaps even in all of East Germany. Because in the past few years there has been intensive discussion in the Free State’s sports scene and even more arguments have been made about how athletes’ performance has been increased in the workers’ and farmers’ state using unfair means and what consequences this had for those affected. Hanke, for example, says that he still suffers from muscle and ligament pain because of doping. Perhaps not understandable for everyone, but in its abundance it is very impressive, reads the medical record: »Achilles tendon rupture right, quadriceps tendon rupture left; also cervicolumbar syndrome, thoracic spine blockage with stiffening of the longitudinal ligament, loosening of the lumbar spine, SI joint arthrosis, femoropatellar pain syndrome, plantar fascia contracture on both sides with metatarsalgia on both sides «.

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This educational work was never very easy because it was always accompanied by the accusation, especially made to the head of the Thuringian State Sports Association (LSB), of delaying the clarification rather than supporting it. When Peter Gösel was still president of the LSB and Rolf Beilschmidt its chief executive officer, the two men on the one hand and, for example, the chairwoman of the doping victim aid association, Ines Geipel, on the other hand, repeatedly exposed each other with hostility.

New quality since 2014

For a long time, the allegations against the LSB were not entirely wrong. Because it is only since the mid-2010s that something like a serious discussion of this difficult topic has been taking place, including by the sports association. By the time the LSB slowly approached the subject, the GDR had already gone under for more than two decades. But not least because the political structure in Thuringia had changed permanently in 2014, one must now recognize that a lot of educational work has been done on this complex of topics in the past five or six years.

Since Bodo Ramelow, the first Prime Minister of the Left in Germany, has been sitting in the Thuringian State Chancellery, the state government has been dealing with GDR history in all its facets with great vigor – driven not least by the fear that its boss might gain the reputation of to glorify the GDR. So Ramelow has not missed an opportunity since then to castigate GDR injustice as such. In addition, he has commissioned a department at the State Chancellery to support or re-initiate any work-up efforts, such as in the case of Matthias Domaschk, who died in 1981 in Gera in a Stasi cell.

This created a pull that the LSB could not avoid, even if Gösel’s successor at the head of the LSB, Stefan Hügel, makes a few subordinate clauses that only confirm the critics of the association in their reservations that the matter is still there not really understood. When Ramelow, for example, warned when presenting the brochure that the alleged machinations of the Erfurt doping doctor Mark S. were proof that Thuringia was still “not free” from the machinations of doping, LSB President Hügel briefly contradicted him Time later, friendly but determined. “We face the past, but we believe that we currently have nothing to do with the Mark S. case,” says Hügel. The man only “unfortunately” lives in the state capital.

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Mark S. currently has to answer before the Munich Regional Court because he is said to have been doping winter and cycling athletes for years. In the meantime he has made a comprehensive confession in court and said that he had doped the athletes out of conviction.

As much as the how GDR doping and the health consequences of doping in the GDR have been discussed in recent years, the question of victims has remained open. Not least, this is often unsatisfactory for the athletes themselves, as can be seen from the way Hanke himself approaches his own question – and initially owes a clear answer to himself and the reader: »I knew about doping substances and about them that I somehow got it. ”After all, he didn’t take it secretly either. “The blue tablets were given openly.” In addition, like so many young men, he was prepared to take risks at this stage in his life.

How hard would it have been to say no?

But Hanke also describes what repression he threatened or what repression he at least feared if he refused to take part in the state-prescribed doping. “If you persuaded the GDR to stop sport against the will of the sports management, then these athletes would often fall out of favor: their schooling deteriorated, studies were often prevented or disrupted, and there was also clan liability.” In addition, such unpopular athletes were then also later extensively spied on. Hanke therefore asks another question that is closely related to the question of whether he was a victim: “Would I have wanted to stop with these episodes?”

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Hanke, who came to competitive sports at SC Turbine Erfurt at the age of 14 and now works as a doctor, was obviously a lot. And that at the same time, side by side. Victim: yes. Confidant: a little. Follower: definitely.

It is this complex juxtaposition of different roles that GDR athletes had during their active time that is now to work on a further study that was jointly commissioned by the LSB and the State Chancellery. Building on the symposium and the brochure, it is intended to be a further highlight of the discussion about doping in the past, in the hope of being able to prevent doping in the present, which will undoubtedly still have a place in popular and even more elite sport Has.

New study until March 2022

As part of this study, the two historians René Wiese and Jutta Braun want to work out in detail and on the basis of more than individual cases by March 2022 how multifaceted doping was in GDR sport: Where and under what circumstances were athletes lied to or deceived? she volunteered with? Where was pressure put on them? How was your trust in the coaches used? How did trainers and doctors shift ethical responsibility for their actions back and forth?

All in all, the two historians will be looking for the individual’s room for maneuver within a dictatorship. The search has long been important not only for sport, but for all areas of life in the GDR. In Wiese’s questioning words: “Was there perhaps more individuality than previously assumed?” It is quite possible that at the end of this study different types of doping athletes will emerge who use the available leeway in very different ways – and thus sometimes more and sometimes less clearly Victims were.

At least at the end of his remarks in the brochure, Hanke gives a very clear assessment of how he sees himself: predominantly as a victim. »Did you even have a free choice within competitive sport? No, ”he says there. The totalitarian GDR system was “clearly” structured in such a way that such a refusal was tantamount to “social self-destruction”. “In any case, it was out of the question for me – I wasn’t a martyr.”


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