PHOENIX, Arizona, January 6. THREE days ago, Swimming World and SwimVortex.com partnered to create an online petition to call on FINA to recognize the victims of the East German drug doping era of the 1970s and 1980s, and the global response has been overwhelming.
Olympic swimmers and coaches, as well as followers of the sport, have signed the petition. (Click here to view and sign the petition.) Since it first went public Friday, these supporters have come from more than a dozen countries in Europe, Asia and North America.
Many of those who signed the petition also left strongly-worded comments on the change.org website, and we want to share some of them in order to give you a sense of how important the issue remains in the global swimming community more than 30 years later.
Michael Wenden (1968 Olympic champion): Justice, reconciliation.
Michelle Ford (1980 Olympic champion): It may be a bad feeling having won through cheating. It certainly is a bad feeling having been cheated of a win. For the future of sport, for swimming, the image, the pride, the glory, for those who truly worked hard and for the future generations who should continue to work hard. I give my support to this initiative.
Douglas Dean: Ideals are meant to be adhered to. They allow all participants a fair and equal starting point in competition. Not recognizing the hypocrisy of the DDR approach to athletics makes a mockery of the IOC’s self-proclaimed ideals.
Jodarna Meade: It is only fair to the athletes who also worked hard to represent their countries and came in behind the doped athletes that they are rightfully awarded these medals. Given what happened to Lance Armstrong, it is only fair that any other athlete who dopes should have their awards stripped. Do the right thing by those cheated.
Annelies Maas (fourth place in 200 free at 1976 Olympics, also 1980 Olympian): I am a victim.
Laura Strom: It’s important that we acknowledge the (East German) athletes as victims, not as the criminals. (These) were people who didn’t have a choice, they are not to be blamed.
Russ Kitching: Honesty in sport needs to be rewarded not penalized
Richard Thurauf : We need clean sports. If only the speed is most important, the way to receive the medal is unimportant, change swimmers by sharks or dolphins, they are much better.
Stephen Marcus: As an optimist and a swimming coach I would like sports to be clean!
Sebastien Locteau: Sports history need to be restored and show fairness
Cees Vervoorn: If this will be done I will get my bronze medal (100m butterfly) from the 1980 Olympics.
Sergei Dymov: Used to be a swimmer. Know how hard the path to the podium is. Hail justice
Gunilla Leinskold-Andersson: I met them several times during the 20th century, including the European Championships in 1974 where I was defeated by two DDR swimmer in 100 butterfly. It was clear back then what was going on but all due respect to the individual swimmers who were the real victims.
Ann Inge (nee Osgerby): I was cheated out of two golds and a bronze medal in the 1980 Olympic Games in my events 100 meters Butterfly, 4×100 medley relay and the 200 meters Butterfly, respectively, when I was beaten by East Germans now known to have taken performance enhancing drugs.
Diana Nash: As a former Olympic swimmer (1972) feel this would be a wonderful and fair way to put a line under the past and to show humanity and compassion to all ‘victims’ of this sad time in our sport.
Adam Perrott: My sister is one of those affected.
Don Wagner: Their cheating changed the history of swimming and “who was great.”
Trina Radke (fifth in 200 butterfly, 1988): As a 1988 Olympic Swimmer, who was impacted by the steroid use of the East German swimmers, I would hope that FINA could allow all athletes involved to come together from these years, to honor what happened, and to provide athletes with duplicate medals.
Paul Sparkes: I was a swimmer in the ’76 Games, over the next few years while swimming for GB in Europe, I became friends with several members of the DDR team. They were all good people that did not know what the coaches and government were doing to them. I was lucky enough to swim with them in Berlin and see some of the training and monitoring. To them it was just part of training and following coach’s direction. They are all victims of the state and should be recognized for the sacrifices they are still making.
Bernard Boglioli: My Wife Wendy Boglioli was a member of the 1976 Olympic Swimming Team, and has fought over 35 years to have these “wrongs” corrected.
Wendy Boglioli (1976 Olympic champion, 400 free relay): Long overdue to my teammates of 1976.
Donna de Varona: I was an announcer for ABC during the First World Swimming Championships in Belgrade and then during the Montreal Olympics. It was a sad time for the sport and for the victims on both sides of this issue. I also helped lobby for the establishment of WADA and USADA as a consultant to President Clinton’s Drug Czar General McAffrey. I was strongly criticized for my activism…and was punished for my strong advocacy–as were others. It is time to do the right thing and lead the way for other Federations to follow. I love sport and swimming. We need to do what is right.
Cynthia Potter: Because I too was a member of the ’72 and ’76 Olympic Team as a diver. The injustices need to be corrected as best possible and this is one way to act to do so.
Brian Goodell: I was a member of the 1976 USA Men’s Olympic Swimming Team and won two gold medals in the 1500m and 400m Freestyle events in Montreal. I personally witnessed the horror of the victims of doping on both sides of the podium and the emotional trauma inflicted on many women who participated in those games. I was also victimized by the trauma of the 1980 US-led Olympic boycott and can therefore understand the long-term effects that such trauma can cause an athlete who has dedicated herself to the pursuit of excellence on the Olympic stage only to be cheated by forces beyond her control. FINA’s acknowledgement of this sad epoch of state-sponsored doping by the DDR would go a long way in bringing justice and recognition to those athletes who were victims of doping.
You can be a part of this drive to make a major change in the history of the sport! Click here to sign the petition, and share with others in your social media circle.