Olympic champion admits to using banned drugs to help him to victory
Friday, 15 February 2013
February 15 - Udo Beyer, one of history's most successful shot putters, has admitted that he used banned performance-enhancing drugs during his career but claimed that he still deserved the Olympic gold medal he won at Montreal in 1976.
Beyer competed for East Germany, which had a systematic doping programme for its top athletes, many of whom have said they were not aware they were being given performance-enhancing substances.
Speaking in the film Lone Wolf shown at the Berlin Film Festival, Beyer said he knew what was happening.
"I knew everything that was done with me," said Beyer in the film made by Sandra Kaudelka, fomerly one of East Germany's top divers.
Unlike other East German athletes, Beyer has insisted that he did not make the confession because he expected sympathy.
"Things I did were my own decision," he said.
"I gave myself the right to do it.
"There were things I refused and there were things I did.
"And there were no secret things in the tea."
Beyer is one of four former East German athletes featured in the 93-minute film, along with Marita Koch, the Moscow 1980 Olympic 400 metres champion, Ines Geipel, who was one of the the country's top sprinters, and Brita Baldus, a diver who won two world titles.
Beyer claimed that his victory at Montreal, where he beat Soviet Union throwers Yevgeny Mironov and Aleksandr Baryshnikov, was fair and that his cheating did not influence the competition.
"No, not at all," he said.
"I was the right Olympic champion because I was the best in the competition."
Beyer, who is now 57, is unlikely to be stripped of his Montreal gold medal because, under the Olympic Charter, no action can be taken after a period of eight years has elapsed.
Beyer, who also won an Olympic bronze medal at Moscow in 1980 and set three world records, claimed that doping accounted for only "two or three per cent" of an athlete's performance.
"Everything else is hard work," he said.
"And if you are not properly trained, you can swallow as many pills as you want..you will never be a top athlete.
"You can give a plough horse as much dope as you want, he will never win a race in Hoppegarten [a German race course]."
In the film, Kaudelka traces the stories of the four athletes from when they were top athletes to what they do know.
Geipel, for example, is now one of Germany's most critically acclaimed authors.
She has campaigned to have her name removed from the German record books having admitted to taking banned drugs many years ago.
"Lone Wolf is not a movie about victims or perpetrators, but about people and their own story," said Kaudelka.
"The four athletes make in their diversity, for me, almost a cross-section of the East German population.
"I wanted to draw an overall picture of a country with all its contradictions."