STRIPPED! Swimming World Vacates Awards of GDR Drug-Fueled Swimmers

Based on a mix of positive tests, personal admissions as well as doping admissions from their coaches, Swimming World Magazine has stripped Kornelia Ender, Ulrike Tauber, Petra Schneider, Ute Geweniger and Kristin Otto of their World Swimmer of the Year awards from the 1970s and ’80s. Those five swimmers–along with Barbara Krause, Cornelia Sirch, Silke Horner and Anke Mohring–have had their European Swimmer of the Year awards vacated as well.

Below, Swimming World has provided a full profile of the competitive endeavors of each of these swimmers who took part in the East German doping machine.

In the December 1994 issue of Swimming World Magazine, editor-in-chief Phillip Whitten first broke the news, then provided the first irrefutable evidence–from the Stasi, the German Democratic Republic’s (GDR) secret police–that East Germany’s female swimmers were victims of rampant, systematized doping.

Ever since, the magazine has routinely called for the East German women who were using performance-enhancing drugs to be stripped of their Olympic medals.

These calls to action have continued every time that the International Olympic Committee has elected to strip other Olympians of their medals due to positive doping tests and/or admissions of defrauding the athletic process. Swimming World has always returned the conversation to the East German women, who were victims of systemic doping from 1973-89.

Whether it was Marion Jones forfeiting her 2000 Olympic medals or Lance Armstrong returning his medal from the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Swimming World has always reminded the world, “What about the East German women?” This includes the fact that Armstrong lost his medal after the IOC’s self-instituted statute of limitations on taking this type of action, which has always been the IOC’s defense for not making things right regarding the doped-up East German women.

What Swimming World Magazine has never done–but is now rectifying–is to follow suit with what it has always charged the IOC to do: strip the drug-induced East Germans of their awards.

Beginning Dec. 1, each of these SOY titles will be vacated in Swimming World’s archives, with a note regarding who previously had won the award.

Unfortunately, the magazine did not publish a top 5 list for its world and regional swimmers in the ’70s and ’80s as it does today. Consequently, there aren’t any runner-up swimmers who could be honored as the rightful swimmers of the year.

The IOC, however, does not have that problem. It knows who finished second–and in some cases third when the East Germans placed 1-2 in their events–and who should be honored as Olympic gold medalists.

Still today, Swimming World calls for the IOC to make things right by awarding the Olympic medals to those who deserve them, regardless of the IOC’s statute of limitations that the organization has seen fit to ignore in other instances.

During the next five days, Swimming World will remind the world of the pain caused–and continually endured–by those most affected by these drug cheats’ continued presence in the record books. The German government has already made the most damning admission with its settlement with 197 former East German athletes to share $2.2 million to address any health issues they might have suffered due to the rampant doping.

Additionally, we will be featuring modern-day reaction to our unprecedented landmark decision to strip nearly 30 of our titles, and will continue our never-ending quest to make sure the IOC never forgets these issues and makes it right by awarding deserving athletes the Olympic medals they earned.

Day 2: Doping’s Darkest Hour; The East Germans and the 1976 Montreal Games
Day 3: 1976 U.S. Olympic Head Coach Jack Nelson Tells Emotional Tale of Montreal
Day 4: Emotional Reactions From Then-And-Now Regarding East German Award Strip
Day 5: Call to the IOC: MAKE IT RIGHT!

PROFILES

KORNELIA ENDER (World Swimmer of the Year: 1973, 1975, 1976; European Swimmer of the Year: 1973, 1975, 1976)

Photo by: Dutch National Archives, The Hague, Fotocollectie Algemeen Nederlands Persbureau (ANEFO), 1945-1989

Kornelia Ender was the poster child for the issues surrounding East Germany’s systematic doping structure as she became the first woman swimmer in history to win four gold medals at an Olympic Games during the 1976 Olympics.

That year, Ender won the 100 free, 200 free, 100 fly and 400 medley relay as well as picked up silver in the 400 free relay. Earlier in her career, she won a trio of silvers at the 1972 Olympics, where she took second in the 200 IM as well as in the 400 free and 400 medley relays as just a 13-year-old, before returning four years later as a 17-year-old to put together a historic collection of performances in 1976.

Ender finished her career with 32 world record performances–four of them at the 1976 Montreal Olympics, which earned Ender her final World Swimmer of the Year honor. She also proved to be the first woman ever to break 58, 57 and 56 seconds in the 100 meter freestyle event.

Ender also proved to be a dynamic swimmer at the FINA World Long Course Championships in 1973 and 1975, which also earned her World Swimmer of the Year honors in those years as well. In 1973, as a 14-year-old, Ender won world titles in the 100 free and 100 fly as well as helped East Germany to wins in the 400 free relay and 400 medley relay. She also took silver in Belgrade that year in the 200 IM.

Just two years later in Cali, Colombia, the then 16-year-old had a similar four gold, one silver outing at the 1975 edition. She won the 100 free and 100 fly, and helped East Germany to victory in the 400 free and 400 medley relays. She also snared a silver in the 200 free. In 1981, the International Swimming Hall of Fame inducted her into the Hall.

Personally, Ender also had a six-year marriage with East German backstroke star Roland Matthes before later marrying track and field athlete Steffen Grummt.

ULRIKE TAUBER (World Swimmer of the Year: 1974, 1977; European Swimmer of the Year: 1974, 1977)

Photo by: German Federal Archive

During the years that Kornelia Ender was not ascending to the top of the World Swimmer of the Year awards, her wingwoman Ulrike Tauber collected Swimming World’s top honor in 1974 and 1977.

Although there was an argument for Ender to win the 1974 award with four European long course titles in the 100 free, 200 free and both the 400 free and medley relays in Vienna, Swimming World elected to award the title to Tauber based on her unreal individual efforts that included a medley sweep with gold in the 200- and 400-meter events, as well as silver in the 100 and 200 backstroke.

While those numbers aren’t as gaudy as the four golds from Ender, Tauber’s complete mastery of the IM events proved to be the difference in 1974. She was seconds ahead of the world in the 200 and 400 IM at the time.

In 1977, with Ender no longer a factor, Tauber scored World Swimmer of the Year honors again as she swept the medley events at the European Long Course Championships in Jonkoping.

Tauber would then finish her career at the 1978 Berlin World Championships with a silver medal in the 400 IM and a bronze in the 200 IM. Tauber also had some success at the Olympic level, winning gold in the 400 IM and silver in the 200 fly at the 1976 Montreal Games.

In 1988, Tauber earned induction into the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

UTE GEWENIGER (World Swimmer of the Year: 1983; European Swimmer of the Year: 1981, 1983)

Photo by: German Federal Archive

Ute Geweniger had her breakthrough performance at the 1980 Olympics in Moscow amid the backdrop of a U.S. boycott. The East German powered her way to victory in the 100 breaststroke and helped the East Germans capture the 400 medley relay–setting world records in both events.

She claimed her first Swimming World award in 1981 with an amazing meet at the 1981 European Long Course Championships in Split, Yugoslavia to be named the European Swimmer of the Year. That year, she put together a stunning six continental titles in Split with victories in the 100 and 200 breaststroke as well as the 100 fly and 200 IM, and also took second in the 400 IM. Finally, she helped the East German squad to victory in the 400 medley relay.

The following year at the 1982 World Long Course Championships in Guayaquil, Ecuador, she teamed with Petra Schneider as a wrecking ball duo on the podium. Geweniger took home gold in the 100 breast and 400 medley relay as well as silver in the 200 IM and 200 breast. She just didn’t have enough to overcome Schneider’s pair of individual golds to win an award that year.

Geweginer responded to the title snub with a vengeance during the best year of her career in 1983 when she raced her way to World Swimmer of the Year honors by way of a strong meet at the 1983 Rome European Long Course Championships. There, Geweniger took home gold in the 100 and 200 breaststroke events as well as the 200 IM and as part of the East German 400 medley relay.

Geweniger may have even had another dominant run in 1984, but was part of the Soviet bloc’s retaliatory boycott of the 1984 Olympics held in Los Angeles.

PETRA SCHNEIDER (World Swimmer of the Year: 1980, 1982; European Swimmer of the Year: 1979, 1980)

Photo by: Dutch National Archives, The Hague, Fotocollectie Algemeen Nederlands Persbureau (ANEFO), 1945-1989

Petra Schneider had her first international splash of success at the 1978 World Long Course Championships, where she won bronze in the 400 IM behind American Tracy Caulkins. Just two years later, she stood atop the world as the World Swimmer of the Year in what proved to be a three-year reign of dominance in the medley events, and would never lose to Caulkins again.

Schneider clinched her first World Swimmer of the Year in 1980 during the boycotted Moscow Olympic Games. There, she topped the 400 IM, and took silver in the 400 free. In Moscow, Schneider completed her third revision of the 400 IM world record from a 4:40.83 down to a 4:36.29, beating silver medalist Sharron Davies of Great Britain by an astounding 10 seconds. Schneider also likely would have collected gold in the 200 IM that year as well, but the event was canceled that year.

In 1981, Schneider had another strong year at the European Long Course Championships held in Split, Yugoslavia. There, she won the 400 IM again and took silver in the 200 IM.

She followed that with another World Swimmer of the Year campaign in 1982 at the World Championships in Guayaquil, where she swept the 200 and 400 IMs and took silver in the 400 free. She had her final international hurrah at the 1983 Rome World Championships, where she took silver in the 400 IM before being blocked from the 1984 Los Angeles Games due to a retaliatory boycott by the Soviet bloc.

Schneider is so adamant about not being honored for her performances as part of the East German systematic doping regime that she’s even on record, stating, “I’d like the current list to be reset at zero.” Not everyone on this list has been that open about their desire to lose their place in the record books.

Schneider was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1989, which called her the greatest female swimmer in the world before, during and after the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

KRISTIN OTTO (World Swimmer of the Year: 1984, 1986, 1988; European Swimmer of the Year: 1984, 1986, 1988)

Photo by: German Federal Archive

The most controversial of all the East German World Female Swimmers of the Year, Kristin Otto has never quite been specific about whether she doped her way to success, even though Swimming World’s Phil Whitten first exposed Otto’s insanely high 17:1 testosterone ratio in his landmark reporting in 1994 based on acquisition of the stunning Stasi files. For some perspective, men with severe glandular disorders rarely break 3:1, and the IOC’s threshold for a positive test at the time was 6:1.

Otto likely would have equaled Mark Spitz’s then record for seven gold medals at an Olympic event during the 1988 Seoul Games, where the East German won an astounding six gold medals. Likely, the only reason she didn’t claim a seventh win is that the women only had a chance at two relays instead of the three Spitz won in 1972.

In Seoul, Otto won the 50 free, 100 free, 100 fly and 100 backstroke, while also taking home gold in the 400 freestyle and medley relays. The jaw-dropping effort in Seoul would earn Otto her third World Swimmer of the Year award.

Otto’s six-gold-medal record–albeit drug-fueled–has stood the test of time, having only just been equaled by Missy Franklin’s astonishing performance at the 2013 FINA World Championships in Barcelona. There, Franklin won the 100 back, 200 back, 200 free and all three relays with wins in the 400 free and 800 free relays as well as the 400 medley relay.

The 1982 World Championships in Guayaquil proved to be Otto’s internal breakout meet, where she first demonstrated her potential dominance in the sport with a world title in the 100 back and as part of both the 400 free and 400 medley relays for East Germany. Just a year later, Otto returned with a pair of golds at the 1983 European Championships in the 400 and 800 free relays as well as a silver in the 100 free.

In 1984, much to the surprise of the swimming community with the Soviet bloc having boycotted the Los Angeles Olympics, Otto still managed to win World Swimmer of the Year with her stunning performances at the 1984 Moscow Friendship Games. There, she won the 100 free and 200 free events, helped East Germany to gold in the 400 free relay, and took silver in the 100 back and bronze in the 200 back.

After a one-year hiatus to recuperate from a fractured vertebra, Otto returned to the sport on fire with another World Swimmer of the Year win in 1986. That year, she collected four world titles at the 1986 World Championships in Madrid. In Spain, she topped the 100 free and 200 IM, while also helping East Germany to wins in both the 400 free and medley relays. Otto also took silver in the 50 free and 100 fly.

Otto put up another World Swimmer of the Year-worthy resume in 1987 at the European Long Course Championships, but could not overcome Janet Evans’ otherworldly world record trifecta in the 400, 800 and 1500 freestyles that same year. In Strasbourg, Otto won the 100 free, 100 back and 100 fly, and earned two more relay golds with wins in the 400 free and 400 medley.

As already detailed, Otto put together a transcendent summer in 1988 at the Seoul Games, before collecting two more European titles in her swan song in 1989. At the Bonn meet, she won the 100 back and the 400 medley relay, while also taking silver in the 100 free and bronze in the 200 back. She retired that year and is currently a sports reporter for German television.

The International Swimming Hall of Fame inducted Otto with the Class of 1993, just a year before Whitten’s earth-shattering report on the Stasi files.

BARBARA KRAUSE (European Swimmer of the Year: 1978 tie)

Photo by: Dutch National Archives, The Hague, Fotocollectie Algemeen Nederlands Persbureau (ANEFO), 1945-1989

Barbara Krause was one of the very first indicators of how far the East German systematic doping regime had gone in its attempt to create the super athlete. After breaking onto the international scene as part of East Germany’s 400 free relay winning quartet at the 1975 Cali World Championships, Krause surprisingly did not make the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal.

Reportedly, Krause was held off the team because the administrators of the doping program had messed up her dosing so badly that the East Germans were worried about a positive test. Never mind that her children were later born with deformed feet!

Once the East Germans were able to recalibrate her doping, Krause took home three golds at the European Long Course Championships in 1977 with wins in the 100 free and both the 400 free and 400 medley relays. She also took silver in the 200 free and bronze in the 400 free.

A year later, Krause tied for European Swimmer of the Year with a win in the 100 free at the 1978 Berlin World Championships as well as silvers in the 200 free and both 400 free and medley relays.

After another one-year hiatus, Krause returned at the boycotted 1980 Moscow Olympics, where she won the 100 free and 200 free gold medals as well as the 400 free relay with her East German teammates.

Just eight years after her final big competition, the International Swimming Hall of Fame inducted Krause with the Class of 1988.

CORNELIA SIRCH (European Swimmer of the Year: 1982)

Photo by: German Federal Archive

Cornelia Sirch came along at a tough time to earn higher accolades from Swimming World, as she first earned European Swimmer of the Year honors in 1982 before moving on to a strong career, but nowhere near the likes of the performances put up by Kristin Otto and Petra Schneider.

Sirch earned her Swimming World kudos by way of a world record of 2:09.91 in the women’s 200 backstroke at the 1982 World Championships in Guayaquil, becoming the first woman to beat the 2:10 barrier. From 1983 through 1988, she collected a variety of other international medals before retiring with health problems.

In 1983, Sirch won a trio of gold medals at the Rome European Championships, topping the 200 back and being part of both 400 free and medley relays. She also took silver in the 100 back. After a year off from high-level competition due to the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics boycott, Sirch returned at the 1985 European Championships held in Sofia, Bulgaria. There, she took gold in the 200 back and silver in the 200 IM.

In 1986 at the Madrid World Championships, Sirch took home her second world title with a win in the 200 back before capturing another pair of European titles in 1987 in Strasbourg. There, she won the 200 back and 200 IM.

Sirch closed out her career at the 1988 Seoul Olympics with gold in the 400 medley relay as well as bronze in the 100 back and 200 back.

SILKE HORNER (European Swimmer of the Year: 1985, 1987)

Photo by: German Federal Archive

Silke Horner had a four-year run of dominance in the breaststroke events for East Germany en route to a pair of European Swimmer of the Year awards.

Horner first made her mark internationally at the 1985 European Championships in Sofia, where she took silver in the 100 breast and bronze in the 200 breast. In Sofia, Horner clocked a 2:28.33 to break the 200 breast world record during preliminary qualifying before having a tough outing in the final. A year later, she captured a world title at the 1986 Madrid World Championships with a world-record gold in the 200 breast and a silver in the 100 breast.

In 1987, Horner had one of her best years with a trio of continental titles at the European Championships held in Strasbourg. She swept the 100 and 200 breaststroke events–setting a world record in the 100–and helped East Germany to gold in the 400 medley relay.

Horner closed her career at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, where she posted a 200 breast world record to win gold, and helped East Germany to the 400 medley relay title as well. Horner also won bronze in the 100 breast.

ANKE MOHRING (European Swimmer of the Year: 1989)

Courtesy of: Swimming World

Marking the last gasp of the East German regime’s impact on Swimming World’s prestigious annual awards, Anke Mohring captured the 1989 European Swimmer of the Year award based on her strong outing at the 1989 European Championships in Bonn.

There, Mohring won the 400 free and 800 free as well as helped East Germany to victory in the 800 free relay.

Mohring first drew attention internationally in 1985 when she took silver in the 400 free and bronze in the 800 free at the European Championships. Two years later, she won the continental title in the 800 free at the 1987 European Championships as well as helped East Germany to victory in the 800 free relay. She then won bronze in the 400 free at the 1988 Seoul Olympics before closing her career with her epic 1989 performance.

While most of the other now-stripped award winners went on to various careers, Mohring has one of the more extreme stories to tell, according to a 1992 article by Der Spiegel before news broke of the rampant doping scheme in East Germany.

After a fight with her former coaches for financial help resulted in low pay, Mohring spoke with local press to describe her issues with her club. The East German machine immediately responded, as just two days later, gossip rags in town began telling a story that she had slipped down the social ladder and was working as a barmaid in a brothel and was, herself, a prostitute.

Additionally, another story in Der Spiegel from 1992–including reporting centered on Mohring–indicated that coaches and their female athletes often had romantic relationships since these swimmers were highly isolated and focused on pleasing their male coaches.

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Author: Archive Team

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