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Wednesday, 21 January, 1998, 07:56 GMT
Call to expunge drug cheat victories
Sharron Davies
Sharron Davies has called on drug cheats to be taken out of the record books
The drugs scandal surrounding the Chinese swimming team comes shortly after fresh revelations about systematic drug abuse by medal winning East German athletes in the 1970s and 80s.

The former British swimmer, Sharron Davies, has been campaigning for 17 years to get an East German swimming gold medal wiped from the record books because of the country's extensive drugs programme.

She has also added to the chorus of voices calling for China to be banned from competitive swimming after the latest round of positive drug results on its swimmers.

The Chinese deny that they have an organised drug programme, and insist that the offences are down to the individuals who will be punished.

But Davies, who competed at a time when East Germans dominated women's swimming, said the Chinese were producing similar performances which were impossible using normal training methods.

"They are setting incredible targets which can't be achieved by normal means," Davies said. "The Chinese are dominating the women's events. If it was all down to training and diet why aren't they as successful with the men? The only solution is to ban the country.

"Athletes are encouraged by coaches to take these things. The thing that really worries me is that swimmers on drugs are setting world records which are being sanctioned and stay in the record book."

The British swimmer hopes that the International Olympic Committee will also yield to public pressure to take Petra Schneider's 1980 gold-medal performance in Moscow out of the list of winners. Davies finished second behind Schneider in the 1980 Olympic 400-metre individual medley and the East German has reportedly admitted taking tablets to build up her Muscles for the event.

"I don't want anybody to turn up on Schneider's doorstep and take the gold medal away from her," Davies said. "I just want the record put straight. That would give me immense satisfaction.

"The sad thing is that every time a swimmer produces a phenomenal performance we look at it cynically," she said. "It would be great not to have to do that."

Schneider broke the world record when beating Davies in Moscow and the British swimmer pointed out that it took a Chinese swimmer to break that mark 17 years later with a time of four minutes 34.79 seconds. "That is incredibly suspect," Davies said. "As a clean record it is almost undoable."

Up to 10,000 athletes may have passed through the East German drugs programme, according to revelations in the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel.

German prosecutors are currently conducting a broad investigation into East Germany's abuse of drugs an Berlin justice spokesperson Matthias Rebentisch says that 680 suspects have been identified as allegedly being involved in East German doping.

So far, four former East German swimming coaches and two physicians have been charged with causing bodily harm for giving anabolic steroids to 17 teenage girls from 1974-89.

Heidi Krieger in her competition days
Heidi Krieger in her competition days
The former East German shot-putter, Heidi Krieger, is also laying charges against her former doctor after she had to undergo a sex change operation as a result of the steroids she took during training.

The former athlete says she was made to take steroids from the age of 16 to improve her performance.

Four years later in 1986 she won a Gold Medal at the European Championships.

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