Pitchside Europe

New report says Germany’s 1966 team may have doped

A German report into the country's use of banned substances since 1950 has revealed that the West Germany team that faced England in the 1966 World Cup final may have used performance-enhancing drugs.

The report has caused a storm and led to renewed calls for a national anti-doping law in Germany. It highlights systematic doping across many sports over decades, partly resembling the state-run doping programme in East Germany during the Cold War.

For English people, though, the most interesting reference in the report is to the 1966 football team that lost 4-2 to England at Wembley. Certainly it offers a counter argument to any German who wishes to bring up the Russian linesman (although he was actually from Azerbaijan...)

The report, conducted by Humboldt University and the University of Muenster, cites a FIFA document from 1966 that showed three players showed traces of ephedrine.

Ephedrine is used as a decongestant and can be found in some over-the-counter sinus medicines but it is banned by WADA and can also be used as a stimulant.

It is the drug that Diego Maradona tested positive for at the 1994 World Cup which saw him kicked out of the competition.

The full German doping report, commissioned by the Federal Institute for Sports Science at the request of the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB), was published under pressure following a leak in the media at the weekend after it had been kept under wraps for months.

The report was completed in April but its content had previously not been officially made public.

It includes details of how by the 1970s at the latest West Germany was actively involved in experimenting with performance-enhancing drugs such as anabolic steroids, testosterone, amphetamines and EPO, financed by taxpayers' money.

Substances seen as boosting performances were then deployed in many sports, it said. A controversial injection distributed widely to West German athletes during the 1976 Olympic Games provided the first modern German doping affair.

Names are not included in the version made public on Monday, something many people, including athletes, officials and politicians, objected to.

"Names have to be named. These are documents of our times and they have to be accessible to the public," Clemens Prokop, head of Germany's athletics federation, said. "The public is demanding to be fully informed."

The report said doping was not limited to one or two sports but that many different athletes had used banned substances, with football players being given amphetamines, or "fighter pilot chocolate", as early as 1949.

Before and even after the two nations reunified in 1990, East Germany was seen as a country that used state-run doping at the height of the Cold War to consolidate its position in the world through success in sport.

West Germany, on the other hand, was never suspected of systematic state-backed doping but seen as a country with individual doping cases, much like any other.

While a great deal of research was conducted into former East German doping practices, the reunified country was in no rush to investigate West Germany's doping past.

"What I am shocked about is that there was research conducted with what obviously was state money and that obviously many of those responsible within sport knew about it," Prokop said.

"We need a doping law in this country. We also need to extend the statute of limitation [for sanctions] against doping offenders past the current eight years."

Former high jump European indoor champion Carlo Thraenhardt, who competed for West Germany in the 1970s and 1980s, said of the report: "First of all I am surprised and frustrated in a way because you want to fight doping. I would make sanctions much stricter than now. At the end of the day it is corruption what these people are doing.

"There were rumours," he told Reuters TV. "We were aware that in the then GDR there was blanket doping. All this was later confirmed."

Eurosport | Reuters