March 29, 1998 in Nation/World

East German Athletes Forced To Have Abortion, German Magazine Says Stasi Feared Effects Of Steroids Given To Teens

Associated Press
 

Top women athletes in the former East Germany reportedly fed anabolic steroids without their knowledge were also forced into having abortions, the German weekly magazine Der Spiegel reported Saturday.

Documents of the Stasi, the East German secret police, showed doctors feared the female fetuses of women taking the steroids could mutate into “strongly masculine types,” the magazine said in excerpts from an article to be published today.

Doping of athletes was reportedly widespread in the formerly communist East Germany. Recent news reports, citing government files, said up to 10,000 athletes passed through the nation’s doping program.

“During the period of use of anabolic hormones, (athletes) were ordered to terminate their pregnancy,” Manfred Hoeppner of Germany’s Sports Medical Institute was quoted by Der Spiegel as saying. The institute is responsible for the health of the country’s athletes.

Neither Hoeppner, the institute’s chief medical officer, nor Der Spiegel offered figures into how many abortions were performed.

Germany’s first trial against the alleged widespread doping of athletes in the formerly communist East Germany is underway in Berlin. Four former East German coaches and two doctors are charged with harming 19 young swimmers - teenagers at the time - by secretly giving them steroids.

Prosecutors say they have evidence that the coaches and doctors knew the health risks of the anabolic steroids but nevertheless administered them under communist East Germany’s state-sponsored push to create world and Olympic champions.

Der Spiegel reported that Berlin police and criminal authorities in the former East German state of Thuringia have also started an investigation into whether some athletes, after no longer taking the drugs, gave birth to children with defects.

In one case, a former athlete in Thuringia gave birth to a heavily handicapped child, the magazine said.

Despite widespread suspicions East German athletes were using them, few of the steroids were detected in mandatory drug tests immediately before and after competition.

© Copyright 1998 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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