Aligning with the ever-present narrative of doping within worldwide sports, including multi-champion tennis player Maria Sharapova announcing this week she recently tested positively for a banned substance, a new book will soon be released on the subject as it related to swimming in the 1970s.
Eight-time American Olympic medalist, swimmer Shirley Babashoff, coauthored “Making Waves”, a book based on Babashoff’s experience with cheating at the 1976 Olympic Games via the since-confirmed systematic doping of the East German (DDR) women’s swimming team.
At the height of her swimming career that primarily spanned the 1970s, Babashoff set 37 national records, as well as 6 world records, including the 200m freestyle world record set when she was just 15 years old. Headed into the 1976 Olympic Games, Babashoff was a poster girl for Team USA, including being on the cover of Sports Illustrated and drawing comparisons as a ‘female Mark Spitz’.
However, Babashoff writes how things turned sour as she publicly began questioning the increasingly masculine characteristics of the East German women’s swimming team, suspecting steroid abuse that wasn’t confirmed until some 30 years later.
For her outspokenness at the time, Babshoff earned the nickname “Surly Shirley” by the media, but still went on to claim 4 silver medals, as well as a relay gold in the 400 freestyle relay at the 1976 Games.
“Making Waves: My Journey to Winning Olympic Gold and Defeating the East German Doping Program” is scheduled to be released on July 12th this year.