West Germany's 1954 World Cup-winning team, feted as the men who helped put a nation back on its feet after World War Two, may have been boosted by a secret doping programme, according to a new university study.
Germany upstaged red-hot favourites Hungary 3-2 in the final in Switzerland in a victory that became known as the "Miracle of Berne", giving the war-weary nation cause at last for cheer.
"There are several strong indications that point to the injection of (methamphetamine) pervitin in some Germany players and not vitamin C as it was claimed," sports historian and author Erik Eggers, who conducted the study as part of a team at Humboldt University in Berlin, told Reuters today.
Pervitin was a known stimulant at the time and had also been distributed to German soldiers in World War Two.
Team officials had said they had injected their players only with vitamin C during the tournament. No drugs tests were conducted a the time.
Eggers has been studying this case for some years and his report forms part of a wider project called 'Doping in Germany', launched by the country's sports authorities to investigate its doping past.
"Pervitin was at that time widely used in many sports and amphetamines were said to be also used by South America players," Eggers said.
"What is suspicious is that these injections to German players were distributed secretly and the only reason they became known was because those who got injected contracted jaundice."
Hungary had demolished the Germans 8-3 in the tournament's group stage, making West Germany's final win all the more surprising.
"The most important indication, though, is that vitamin C is not injected. This is very unusual. They could have just eaten an orange instead."
German football federation (DFB) officials could not be immediately be reached for a comment.
German Olympic Sports Union (DOSB), the country's umbrella sports organisation which launched the Doping in Germany project with other sports authorities, told Reuters they were aware of Eggers' study.
"Keep in mind these are indications and not proof, " a DOSB official told Reuters.
Many Germans view the 1954 win as the springboard of the country's remarkable soccer success in the World Cups - they have won three and been runners-up four times - and a key moment of renewed optimism in post-War Germany.Reuse content