AUSTIN, Texas—Photocopies of important documents from the secret police of the former German Democratic Republic — the Staatssicherheitsdienst (STASI) — relating to the East German government’s systematic doping of its athletes with anabolic steroids have been acquired by the Center for American History at The University of Texas at Austin.
Dr. Don E. Carleton, director of the Center for American History, recently announced the acquisition of the “Steven Ungerleider German Democratic Republic (GDR) Collection in Honor of Professor Werner Franke and Brigitte Berendonk.”
This collection comprises materials collected by Ungerleider for his book Faust’s Gold: Inside the East German Doping Machine (St. Martin’s, 2001). The collection complements the center’s Todd-McLean History of Physical Culture Collection, which documents the broad scope of the history of physical culture and health consciousness from the 1820s to the present day.
The Ungerleider collection — consisting of photocopies of about 10,000 STASI files — includes scientific reports on the benefits and side effects of performance-enhancing drugs given to East German athletes and official documents of state and professional organizations within the German Democratic Republic related to the doping system. It also includes reports from physicians, coaches and athletes who were unofficial informants to the STASI, and court documents produced during the investigations and trials that arose when documentation of the doping system was leaked from STASI files after the reunification of East and West Germany in 1989.
“During the 1970s and 1980s, East Germany’s corrupt sports organization dominated international amateur athletics,” Ungerleider said in the preface to Faust’s Gold. “In the three decades when the German Democratic Republic’s secret ‘State Planning Theme 14.25’ was in effect, more than 10,000 unsuspecting young athletes were given massive doses of performance-enhancing anabolic steroids. They achieved near-miraculous success in international competition, including the Olympics. But for most, their physical and emotional health was permanently shattered.”
Although rumors of the doping system were widespread, only now is the full scope of the system being revealed. Documents of the system have surfaced and former athletes who participated in the doping have come forward to tell of the serious health problems they now face.
Ungerleider is a licensed psychologist who consults with collegiate, Olympic and professional athletes. His interest in the possibility of an East German doping system began as he worked with U.S. Olympic athletes, beginning in the late 1970s and heard their complaints of the startling physical attributes and competitive prowess of female East German swimmers. Then in the 1990s, as information began to leak, Ungerleider teamed with former German Democratic Republic Olympic athlete Brigitte Berendonk and her husband, molecular biologist Werner Franke, to investigate this story and tell it to the world.
Ungerleider completed his undergraduate studies at The University of Texas at Austin, where he also competed for the university’s gymnastics team.
“Faust’s Gold is more than a story of GDR Olympians being doped to win medals, and the consequences of their heart disease and cancer from the drugs,” Ungerleider said of the five-year project. “It’s a story of historical magnitude of how the Germans seem to continue their exploitation and human experiments well into the 21st century. It seemed important to me to get these archives and police files into the hands of other scholars and students who might want to do further research in this area.
“After consulting legal counsel and scholars on both sides of the ocean, I decided that we needed a secure place, a world-class facility and a university with a major reputation for scholarly research. The University of Texas at Austin fit all of these, and the Center for American History was the right place.”
For more information, contact Carleton at (512) 495-4515.