Manfred Ewald is prominently known for his supervision of the doping of East German Olympic athletesduring the 1960’s, 70’s, and 80’s.
Born in 1926 in Damsdorf, Germany, he became member of Hitler Youthduring adolescence, and later joined the Nazi Party during World War II. In 1961, Ewald became sports ministerof Germany, and then became head of the East German Olympic Committee in 1973; he held this position until1990 (fall of the Berlin Wall). Ewald was put on trial in 2000 for sponsoring the injecting of Olympic athleteswith steroids.
He passed away at 76 years old in 2002 in Damsdorf.Ewald’s “doping programme” was initiated in the mid-1960’s (Guardian, 2002). This was a “government-sponsored” program, involving over 10,000 Olympic athletes and the work of hundreds of doctors and scientists(New York Times, 2002). Ewald’s aim was to increase East Germany’s standings in the Olympics, and bringpositive recognition to East Germany. To achieve this, he specifically chose athletes participating in individualsports (one such athlete was Heidi Krieger).
This doping initiative earned East Germany 20 gold medals at the1972 Summer Olympics and then 40 gold medals at 1976 Summer Olympics. All this time, athletic minors wereunaware they were being given performance enhancing substances, being told the pills or injections weresupplemental. Many succumbed to health problems after repeated injections, such as shrinking breasts, deepeningvoices, cancer, and liver failure. Ewald did his best to cover up his work; one example was not allowing femaleathletes with deeper voices to be interviewed.2There was heavy suspicion against East Germany regarding their use of steroids to enhance theperformance of their athletes, however the International Olympic Committee (IOC) chose not to investigate.
IOCPresident Juan Samaranch even bestowed Ewald the Olympic Order, “the highest honor in international sports” infear of East Germany boycotting the next Olympic games (New York Times, 2002). Official charges were notfiled against Ewald until 1997, and a trial did not take place until 2000. He was ultimately convicted on July 19,2000 alongside medical director, Manfred Hoeppner, as head of the program responsible for doping Germany’sOlympic athletes. His sentence was 2 years in prison and 22 months on probation. Ewald never gave an explicitapology and only ever defended his actions.
None of the gold medals won by East Germany (while the dopingprogram was in session) were revoked by the IOC.