Episode 2

In the 1970s and 1980s, the East German state spent up to 30% of its GDP on sport. The programme - State Plan 14.25 - worked. Whether at the Olympics or the numerous World Championships, the GDR teams were spectacularly successful. Gold medals were accumulated and world records were set. But the results came at a cost for many of the sportsmen and women in the programme.

At the heart of State Plan 14.25 was a systematic, state controlled doping programme that involved thousands of athletes. For some, the results have been life changing. It is estimated that hundreds of former athletes have suffered long term physical damage to their health as a result of the drugs they were given.

The question of who was responsible for the doping programmes has dogged German sport since the fall of the Berlin Wall almost 20 years ago. Many blame the coaches. Others look to the scientists and to the doctors who actually administered the drugs.

After years of litigation, 184 former East German athletes were paid approximately 10,000 Euros each to settle their class action, but a group of 40 remain unhappy with the terms of this settlement. In their eyes, justice has not yet been served.

Another body of opinion feels that the time for recrimination has passed, but for those athletes whose lives have been severely affected, talk of reconciliation feels premature. They argue that that they should be treated with more human decency and respect.

Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the once mighty East German sporting machine, many questions still remain unanswered. What did the coaches really know? Where are the members of the medical profession who were so intimately involved in the programme? And where are the scientists who prepared the drugs?

With the Berlin World Athletics Championships due to start on August 15th, BBC Science reporter Matt McGrath investigates the consequences of East Germany's sporting system in this concluding episode of a 2-part Discovery special - Sport's Greatest Cover Up.

Available now

28 minutes

Last on

Sun 16 Aug 2009 13:32 GMT


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