California Dreaming Takes Reality To The Ioc, Fina & Usa Swimming On Gdr Dopingn passing a resolution to right the wrongs of a dark chapter in swimming history, the California Senate in the United States has taken a giant leap in its bid to have the International Olympic Committee recognise the achievements of those knocked by State Plan 14:25, the East German doping program, at the Montreal 1976 Olympic Games.
East Germany’s women swimmers claimed 11 out of 13 gold medals at Montreal 1976, the 200m breaststroke going to Marina Koshevaia at the helm of a Soviet Union medals sweep, the 4x100m freestyle going to the United States in a victory recalled in the SwimVortex Book of the Year for 2016, Shirley Babashoff’s Making Waves, and the Last Gold documentary.
In California, Senate Resolution 88 urges the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to address the injustice of results gained through the use of performance-enhancing substances, the details of which are confirmed in Stasi (state secret police) files galore saved from the shredders at the fall of the Berlin Wall by people keen to get the truth out. Dr Werner Franke and his wife Brigitte Berendonk were the first to reveal the extent of State Plan 14:25.
The files confirmed that all East Germany’s women swimmers were fed a diet of steroids as part of their training from as young as 13 years of age. The archive and evidence from Germany’s DDR doping trials of 1998-2000 – in which FINA silver pin holder to this day, Dr Lothar Kipke, was handed a criminal record – notes the names of generation after generation of swimmers fed doping between 1973 and 1989.
What Californian senators are trying to achieve is what neither the IOC, nor FINA nor USA Swimming has pressed for in 40 years. Not a single result, not a single record has been removed; not a single asterisk of truth and context placed in the book; not a single attempt made to recognise the victims on both sides; not a single effort to take the ‘services to swimming’ honours away from those in the GDR who were subsequently handed criminal convictions.
Here’s what we’re talking about in a European context alone – 1974-1989 – European Championships, women:
99/105 gold medals to the GDR, including every relay possible (2 for URS, 1 each for Bulgaria, France and Romania – and that was it) 62/84 silvers to the GDR 16/84 bronzes to the GDR 156 medals were won out of a possible 168 podium places available to the GDR in solo events under the two-per-nation rule.
In that regard, the history of swimming is a cesspit of cheating, misadventure and unrepresentative results when it comes to the healthy, clean environment that could have been cultivated but was not.
And then there is ‘Surley Shirley’, better reverend to as Shirley Babashoff, one of the most outstanding swimmers in history.
Babashoff has taken to social media this week to than Senator John Moorlach, who led the campaign to have her achievements and those of many others, officially recognised, along the lines long advocated by SwimNews, then SwimVortex and Swimming World.