The California Senate has taken a major step in recognizing the injustices of the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games by passing Senate Resolution 88, which urges the IOC, FINA, and USA Swimming to recognize the athletes who suffered at the hands of East German doping.
East Germany’s doping program, officially recognized as State Plan 14:25, began in the early 70s as a way for East Germany to secure national prestige through sporting dominance. Oral Turinabol, an anabolic steroid developed at a secret lab in Leipzig, was given to East German girls as young as twelve without their or their parent’s knowledge. The Secret police force in charge of the program, the Statsi, planted nearly 3,000 moles within the sports system to monitor the coaches and athletes. All of this information has been accumulated from Brigitte Berendonk and her husband, biologist Werner Franke. Their controversial book, Doping Dokumente, was published after they discovered written documentation that described the doping plans.
The effects of the doping program were immediate, with the East German swim team winning eleven of a possible thirteen gold medals at the 1976 Montreal Summer Olympics. From 1974-1989, the East German women won 99 of a possible 105 gold medals at the European Championships, and 156 of a possible 168 medals, accounting for the two-swimmer rule that limited the amount of entrants at championship meets.
The Resolution has been long awaited by all of the athletes who competed at these Olympics, including Shirley Babashoff. Babashoff won four silver medals at those 1976 Montreal Olympics, as well as a gold on the 400-meter freestyle relay. All of Babashoff’s losses came to East German swimmers. This resolution will try and influence the IOC and FINA to rescind East Germany’s Olympic medals from the period that the alleged doping took place.