Article

The doping of athletes in the former East Germany: A critical assessment of comparisons with Nazi medical experiments

Citation

Dimeo P & Hunt TM (2012) The doping of athletes in the former East Germany: A critical assessment of comparisons with Nazi medical experiments. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 47 (5), pp. 581-593. https://doi.org/10.1177/1012690211403198

Abstract
A number of prominent writers on the social history and policy of sports doping in the former East Germany have compared that system with the atrocities of Nazi medical experimentation. This article draws from a range of primary and secondary sources to discuss and challenge the Nazi comparison argument. We argue that while there were many cases of secretive abuse and experimentation that led to severe side-effects, there are also examples of athletes who knew what they were taking. Moreover, the doping administrators did not have complete control over how doctors and coaches implemented the system - it was not a closed, totalitarian system that denied individual agency. We further argue that when set in the wider context of crimes within the former GDR, sports does not register as the most serious. The comparison with Nazi Germany is an over-statement constructed by writers whose emphasis on traditional sporting ethics had led them to exaggerate their argument. As such, the discussion of individual experiences opens up dilemmas, contradictions, and the space for agency, that simplistic top-down sociological and political models have so far denied.

Keywords
doping; East Germany; politics; sport; Doping in sports Germany (East);Anabolic steroids Germany (East)

Journal
International Review for the Sociology of Sport: Volume 47, Issue 5

StatusPublished
Publication date31/10/2012
URLhttp://hdl.handle.net/1893/12257
PublisherSAGE Publications for the International Sociology of Sport Association
ISSN1012-6902