The images from Pink Floyd’s The Wall, particularly the 1982 film of that name, are haunting.
“We don’t need no education. We don’t need no thought control”, chant the students in unison, faces blank, walking into the gaping maw of a meat grinder.
In 1977, fifteen-year old Christiane Knacke, was a promising swimmer in East Germany, the first woman to swim the 100-meter butterfly in less than a minute. Now targeted for greatness, Knacke’s coach began to put his new swimming prodigy on a new regimen, as explained the wonderful tome, The Complete Book of the Olympics, by David Wallechinsky and Jaime Loucky.
“Her coach, Rolf Glasen now added to her regime a daily dose of ten to fifteen steroid pills. She also received shots of cortisone and procraine and, twice a week, intraveneous drips of an unknown liquid. In less than a year Knacke grew from 50 kilograms (110 pounds) to 65 kilograms (143 pounds).”
At the 1980 Moscow Olympics, boycotted by over 60 nations in protest of the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan, the East Germans swept the women’s 100-meter butterfly, 18-year old Knacke taking the bronze. According to Wallechinsky and Loucky, right after her triumph in Moscow, Knacke had three operations on her elbow, her bones having turned to “crystal” due to an excessive intake of anabolic steroids.
In 1998, 9 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Knacke was a co-plaintiff in a suit against former East German coaches who oversaw the implementation of the systematic doping. Glaser publicly apologized to Knacke, and Knacke voluntarily gave up her bronze medal.
According to this PBS article, The East German Sports Performance Committee, with the