We always want to be world champions, no matter what the cost. It's okay to want to be world champion, but if you want to do it "no matter what the cost" then it is a dangerous game. Sport has changed. In sport these days, as a young man, you can earn good money. You become a national product, people love you and you are a celebrity. But the athletes often don't know the risks they are exposing themselves to. The system is very strong, and there are many vested interests. When we tell this story of what happened in the former East Germany, we are also trying to educate people involved in sport today.
"The IOC should do something to acknowledge the fact that the East Germans were cheating," says Kardong, who has long been the chief organizer of the Bloomsday Run in his hometown of Spokane, Wash. "I don't know if the IOC should make some sort of statement, or have something in the record books. I don't know how feasible it is to go back and start changing the order of finishes in all those events. It's an incredibly complicated issue. It's hard to know which East German athletes knew about the drugs they were being given, or if they had any choice even if they knew. Some were victims of the system and had to sacrifice their health and even their lives.
Rightfully so, the women swimmers were upset with themselves and angry at the East Germans for winning. interviewers kept asking Babashoff what her problem was and why she was not winning all her races. Had they looked at her times and noticed that she was beating the world records, they would have maybe understood her aggressive reactions and responses to these questions. She was given the nickname “Surly Shirley” due to her loud and public complaints. In her first Olympics four years earlier, the East German swimmers had not been competition for her and so when they arrived bigger, stronger, and faster in 1976, it was a surprise.