East German Women's Swim Team
The East German women's swim team needed some help. In the Olympics of 1964, '68 and '72, they won only a combined 11 medals. So in an attempt to get a leg up on their competition, the 1976 team, in preparation for the Montreal Games, turned to performance-enhancing drugs like hormones and steroids, obtained through a government program. For the swimmers, the results were self-explanatory: 1976 - 18 medals (11 gold); 1980 - 26 medals (11 gold); 1984 - boycott; 1988 - 22 medals (10 gold).
Stunning both their competitors and viewers, the young East German girls brought home every gold medal except two in 1976. The world saw a Communist nation producing super athletes who clearly looked physically advanced and different. One American swimmer noted how hard she and her teammates prepared for the world's biggest stage — it was impossible for the East Germans to have worked that much harder to look that much stronger. American swimmers were harshly criticized for complaining during the Olympics when they pointed out the unusual nature of the East German women; the Americans were essentially scorned for being sore losers. To this day, some Americans continue to lobby for their right to a gold medal, yet it remains a difficult initiative to change the history books.
With the unification of West and East Germany, the files on the government's doping initiative were uncovered, resulting in many doctors and coaches forced to testify under oath. In the early '90s, the coaches signed a statement affirming "that anabolic steroids were used in former East German swimming." East Germany had created a state-sponsored monster that systematically drugged athletes: Reports say that possibly as many as 10,000 athletes from 1968 to 1988 took PEDs.