FINA–swimming’s international governing body–intends to honor several outstanding swimmers of the past at the World Championships next month. No announcement has been made, but the list is headed by Kristin Otto of East Germany, a six-time gold medalist at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul. Another honoree is Anita Lonsborough of Great Britain, gold medalist in the 200 breaststroke at the 1960 Rome Olympics.
The timing of the honoring of Otto is puzzling. In Germany, trials currently are being held of some 100 former East German coaches, trainers and sports medicine physicians, and evidence has been introduced showing that all East Germany’s world class swimmers were doped. In 1994, Swimming World published the first documents from the Stasi, East Germany’s Secret Police, showing that athletes were systematically doped. The particular document published by Swimming World included a positive internal doping test of four East German women swimmers, including Otto.