The notion of athletes being deprived of their dues surfaced again this week in a tweet issued by British Olympian 1500 metres runner Andy Baddeley, and re-tweeted by world marathon record holder Paula Radcliffe:
"Doping is fraud. Medals, moments and money are STOLEN from clean athletes. Bravo Germany #cleansport"
The plaudits were in response to this week's news that Germany - having debated the idea for many years - appears on the brink of making sports doping a criminal offence for its elite athletes.
The proposed law, which is due to be presented to the German Parliament next Spring, would include jail terms of up to three years for professional athletes found guilty of taking performance-enhancing drugs.
About 7,000 German professional athletes who are covered by the national testing programme will be affected by the new law, which would not extend to recreational athletes.
Foreign athletes caught doping while competing in Germany would also risk prison, as would doctors or others found to have provided drugs, with jail terms of up to 10 years being envisaged.
Despite Germany's healthy total of eight golds, six silvers and five bronzes at this year's Sochi Winter Games, the nation also suffered the embarrassment of a high profile doping positive as experienced biathlete Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle was ejected from the Games after a failed drugs test and subsequently banned for two years.
There is an irony in the fact that Germany is seeking to break new ground in the fight against doping in sport.
In March 1997, legal action by two German athletes - Martin Brehmer and Susan Tiedke-Greene - allowed them to be reinstated halfway through four-year suspensions.
These were among numerous similar appeals in Germany, Russia and Spain, where restraint-of-trade legislation in civil law regarded a ban of two years, rather than four, as an appropriate punishment for athletes found guilty of serious doping.
On the eve of the 1997 World Championships, athletics world governing body, then still known as the International Amateur Athletic Federation, felt obliged to reduce the standard ban to two-years in the wake of several costly and unsuccessful legal battles.
But tides of opinion have changed, and the World Anti-Doping Agency, now responsible for global anti-doping policy in the majority of sports, has made numerous bullish statements with regard to legal acceptance of stronger sanctions.
From January 1 next year, the four year ban will return as the IAAF's standard punishment for serious doping offenders, under the World Anti-Doping Agency Code.
The zeitgeist has altered - and now Germany is tackling a problem which has beguiled it in a uniquely damaging fashion in the space of the last 40 years.
It was not until the fall of the Berlin Wall 25 years ago that the full scale of East Germany's State Plan 14.25 emerged. It had offered a generation of East German athletes a simple choice: follow a state-run doping programme, or forget about pursuing your career.
Almost a decade after the revelations, some of those athletes, grievously harmed both physically and mentally by the substances they had been obliged to ingest, were able to confront some of the doctors and coaches involved in the programme in a court of law, with the latter being charged with grievous bodily harm.
Doping emerged into the limelight in Germany once again last year following a report into the historic use of performance-enhancing drugs on the western side of the country.
While there was no evidence of a state-run system such as had existed on the other side of the Wall for a quarter of a century, the report - commissioned by the German Olympic Sports Confederation in 2008 and undertaken by researchers from Berlin's Humboldt University -showed that the Federal Institute for Sports Science (BISp) had experimented with anabolic steroids, testosterone, estrogen and blood doping, which had been used systematically since the beginning of the 1970s.
The 800-page "Doping in Germany from 1950 to today" - not all of which was published - claimed that West Germany's system of doping was not developed as a response to that of East Germany, but ran parallel to it, reportedly in a number of sports, including football and athletics.
According to John Huberman in "Athletes in Handcuffs? – The Criminalisation of Doping", one of a collection of related studies in "Doping and Anti-Doping Policy in Sport: Ethical, Legal and Social Perspectives (ed McNamee & Verner, Routledge, 2011)", the legal actions which followed revelations of the East German doping regime "associated 'German' doping practices and criminal medical practices in a way that has had no counterpart in any other country."
In 2007, a move to criminalise sports doping was rejected, as the prospect of "athletes in handcuffs" was deemed unacceptable.
But the impulse to cleanse and clarify remained. Two years later, as Huberman notes, the Bavarian Minister of Justice, Beate Merk, commented: "Why is there so much anxiety about the legal system?...It is obvious that sport is not going to rid itself of this problem on its own."
Plans to clamp down on doping were laid once again by the coalition Government which formed under Angela Merkel's third term as Chancellor last year - which brings us to the present position.
Will it be accepted? And if so, will it be acceptable? These questions remain unanswered.
Speaking to BBC Sport in the wake of the news of the German initiative, Professor Werner Franke, a leading expert in performance-enhancing drugs who helped research the 1991 book "Doping: From Research to Deceit", uncovering the East German system, sounded a warning note.
Franke's main criticism was that the law would target only professionals, who are rare in Olympic sports, adding that even an Olympic athletics champion could argue in a court that the law didn't apply to them.
He also cast doubt on how effective proposed sanctions against doctors supplying substances would be, claiming they would not be obliged to give any evidence about their clients in German law.
Can Germany have come this far for a law with zero effect? Surely not...
Mike Rowbottom, one of Britain's most talented sportswriters, covered the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics as chief feature writer for insidethegames, having covered the previous five summer Games, and four winter Games, for The Independent. He has worked for the Daily Mail, The Times, The Observer, The Sunday Correspondent and The Guardian. His latest book Foul Play – the Dark Arts of Cheating in Sport (Bloomsbury £8.99) is available at the insidethegames.biz shop. To follow him on Twitter click here.