Justice For Shirley Babashoff and Others? FINA Will Explore Doping History and Awarding Proper Medals

Shirley Babashoff Kornelia Ender and Enith Brigitha 1973

Justice For Shirley Babashoff and Others? FINA Will Explore Doping History and Awarding Proper Medals

In response to FINA’s decision to strip Dr. Lothar Kipke of the honor he was handed 22 years ago by the federation, we revisit the possibility of justice for athletes who were robbed by the systematic doping program of East Germany.

Shirley Babashoff. Enith Brigitha. Sharron Davies. All three women have Olympic medals to their names, but not the gold color they deserve. Due to the systematic-doping program orchestrated by East Germany during the 1970s and 1980s, Babashoff, Brigitha and Davies were beaten to the wall by performance-enhanced opponents, their rightful place in the sport not recognized.

Now, with FINA pushing for greater transparency and reform under new president Husain Al-Musallam, the governing body for aquatics sports has indicated it will look at past performances and how doping played a role. One possible outcome of an investigation of the past is awarding athletes the medals they would have won in Olympic competition, if not for the presence of the East Germans.

Babashoff and Brigitha finished behind East Germans in several races at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, with Babashoff long calling for the International Olympic Committee and FINA to right those wrongs by upgrading medals of those who finished behind swimmers known to have benefited from performance-enhancing drugs. As for Davies, she was the silver medalist in the 400 individual medley at the 1980 Games in Moscow, where East Germany’s Petra Schneider was the gold medalist.

In a reversal of its former approach, in which it ignored the subject, FINA has indicated it is willing to look at history and, possibly, alter it for the sake of the athletes who suffered injustices in the pool. Although FINA is willing to look at the past, it is important to note that the awarding of retroactive medals will require the approval of the IOC.

If retroactive medals are awarded, it is unlikely the East German athletes will have their medals stripped. As part of the systematic-doping program that was instituted and guided by the government, the athletes were pawns in a political system, and instructed to follow the directions of their coaches and senior officials.

Here are some previous stories by Swimming World that discuss the dark days of doping and the affected athletes.







  1. avatar

    Will the 1975 World Championships be considered as well?

  2. avatar

    …how will they look into this? 40+ years later?

  3. avatar

    And while FINA’s at it, why don’t they look at the males? It’s not discussed as much, and we didn’t realize it was taking place at the time, but the same systems that were doping females were doping their males as well.

  4. avatar
    Heather Greenwood Harper

    They should start with the First World Championships in 1973 held in Belgrade, Yugoslavia!!!!

  5. avatar

    What about 3rd place 400 IM women Moscow medalist Poland’s A. Czopek? Will her get silver medal?

  6. avatar
    Jim Smith

    Explore? What is there to explore???? It’s FACT that these athletes were doped to the gills! Every single person robbed of a medal or record needs to be acknowledged and given their medal(s) and records. Heather is right. Start with Belgrade and go forward. But what about the Olympics? FINA is in charge of the World Championships ONLY. The Olympic medals are under the jurisdiction of the IOC. That yes a whole other story right there.

  7. avatar

    A few Chinese women finished behind E Germans at the 1988 Olympics. Would their positions/medals be elevated as well, given that they have also been widely suspected to have been chemically-enhanced at that time (though not with as much conclusive evidence as the E Germans)?

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