The East German Doping Program: An Overview

By Craig Lord

EDITOR'S Note: The following is a synopsis of the key figures, events and developments associated with the systematic doping program of East Germany. Victims of the system have filed a lawsuit against Jenapharm, which developed the steroids used by the East German program.


– Schering, one of the world's largest drugs companies bought almost 75 per cent of Jenapharm in 1996. Since 2001, Jenapharm, based 50 miles south west of Leipzig, has been wholly owned by Schering.

– In the days when it was part of the state-run Pharmazeutisches Kombinat GERMED group, Jenapharm developed Oral-Turinabol, the anabolic steroid that fueled much of East Germany's sporting success and later became known as "the little blue pill".

– Jenapharm, which had a turnover of euros 1.35 billion in 2004, is Germany's biggest producer of the pill, a fact recognized by the pharmaceutical industry awarding the company the "Golden Pill" award.

– Isabel Rothe became chief executive officer of Jenapharm in 2001.

– In East German times, the company was headed by Dr. Dieter Taubert. Taubert is now the chief executive officer of Schering Deutschland GmbH and commands a six-figure wage. In Stasi (secret police) files, Taubert goes by the undercover name of "Alexander".

– The Stasi listed GDR doping experiments under the code name "Komplex 08."

– Jenapharm's website – – includes a history section that simply states "site under construction".


Karin Koenig, a member of the GDR's world record breaking 4x100m freestyle relay in 1984, has stated that she will pursue a private prosecution against Jenapharm and has asked the German Olympic Committee, which assumed the responsibilities of the former East German equivalent upon reunification in 1990, for 10,000 euros. The NOC has refused to pay but says that it will contribute to compensation should Jenapharm pay up.


Between 1972 and 1988, East German athletes won 144 Olympic titles. That success rate was achieved mainly by women. In track and field, GDR women won 23 out of a possible 60 gold medals between 1972 and 1988 (discounting the 1984 boycott). In swimming, domination was even greater: 32 out of a possible 41 titles at the 1976, 1980 and 1988 Games went the way of East German women, who also won 66 of all 123 medals handed out at those three Olympic Games. Of the 72 world titles handed out to women swimmers between 1973 and 1986, East Germans won 44.


– Some 10,000 athletes were doped by the state in East Germany, including some as young as 11. Hundreds have suffered health problems as a consequence and by the close of the doping trials in unified Germany in 2000, some 2 million euros of compensation had been handed out to a few hundred athletes, whose average payout for suffering "bodily harm" was euros 6,500.

– Petra Schneider, Karen Koenig and many others like them were given anabolic steroids throughout their sporting careers. They have since suffered serious health problems, including chronic heart, liver, kidney and back conditions, as well as conditions associated with an altered metabolic system.

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Author: Archive Team


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