FAUST'S GOLD: Inside the East German Doping Machine

Steven Ungerleider, Author , intro. by Bill Bradley. St. Martin's/Dunne $23.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-312-26977-7

In this informative but ultimately disappointing account, Ungerleider (Mental Training for Peak Performance; Beyond Strength: Psychological Profiles of Olympic Athletes with Jackie Golding), a psychologist and journalist, traces the first major trial of former East German sports officials in 1998 and 1999. Under a strict directive from its highest political office, between the 1960s and the '80s the GDR gave steroids to more than 10,000 uninformed youngsters as part of its quest for dominance in worldwide sports events. Basing his reports on interviews with former athletes and officials, Ungerleider details the extensive health problems that the female athletes suffered as a result of the "vitamins" that they took, ranging from short-term concerns including raging libidos and unnatural hair-growth, to serious, long-term problems including depression, birth defects, heart failure and tumors. While poignant, these stories begin to repeat themselves. One of the more interesting revelations, however, is of the conflict some of the former Olympians feel: on the one hand is their patriotism and sense of obligation to the individuals who helped make them superior athletes; on the other is their sense of shame at the possibility of having won medals unfairly—and the corresponding desire that the truth about the doping be told. Unfortunately, the main narrative of the trial fails to develop any momentum. Ungerleider does not examine the effects of the doping on East German society or on the Cold War; nor does he seriously address the implications of systemic sports drug use, even though, as the recent Tour de France scandal shows, they apply in the post-Communist world as well. (July 20)

Reviewed on: 06/04/2001
Release date: 06/01/2001
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 256 pages - 978-1-4668-9185-2
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