A former East German swimming world record-holder, writing in a West German daily Tuesday, admitted to massive use of steroids by East German athletes.
Christiane Knacke, who in 1977 became the first woman to break the one-minute barrier for the 100-meter butterfly, said, "Yes, I was doped. But not at my own will," in an article published in Die Welt."At first I didn't know exactly what I was taking," said Knacke, who now lives in Austria with her husband. "But after I saw how my muscles were growing, it dawned on me."
The East German government-run daily Neues Deutschland angrily rejected similar reports in the past few weeks and claimed the articles were meant to defame East Germany. It also accused the outspoken athletes of being "traitors."
The West German mass-circulation Bild paper earlier quoted Hans-Georg Aschenbach - once East Germany's leading ski jumper - as saying virtually all East German athletes were forced by trainers to take steroids.
The four-time World Champion and 1976 Olympic gold medalist named several of East Germany's best known athletes, including figure skater Katarina Witt, 1984 and 1988 Olympics gold medalist.
"I know that she had to dope herself," Aschenbach said. He also made similar references to swimmer Kristin Otto, seven-time world champion and winner of six Olympic medals at Seoul, and to javelin star Petra Felke.
In Tuesday's article, Knacke claimed several other East German swimmers were also forced to take steroids regularly, and told of two, Barbara Krause and Andrea Pollack, who attributed childbearing problems to the drugs.
"Barbara Krause had two children," said Knacke. "Both came into the world deformed - with clubfeet. Andrea Pollack had a miscarriage."
Knacke also blamed the drugs for numbness in her right hand and hormonal disorder affecting her daughter Jennifer, born in 1983.
She claimed that although she and her teammates eventually saw the need to stop using the drugs, their protests were ignored by trainers. "When we were finally fed up," said Knacke, "we said we won't take any more. The answer was, `Do it or else'."