Swimming: Davies demands fresh look at East German medallists

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Calls for former East Germans to be stripped of their Olympic medals for alleged cheating with drugs could leave sporting chiefs with huge moral and legal problems. Adrian Warner reports.

Sharron Davies, the former Olympic silver medallist swimmer, yesterday demanded a review of the performances of former East German athletes as more evidence emerged of systematic doping in the former Communist state.

"How can world records or medals that were set or won stay in place now the truth is known?" Davies said. "All my career I was swimming against Eastern Bloc swimmers who were on a drug programme devised for them from above."

East German coaches admitted several years ago that systematic doping played an important role in the state's remarkable success at Olympics in the 1970s and 1980s when sporting success was used to promote Communism. But recent investigations by German public prosecutors into the abuse of banned performance-enhancing substances in the GDR has brought the subject back into the spotlight.

Davies, who won silver at the Moscow Olympics in 1980 demanded action on the day when the head coach of the German swimming team, Winfried Leopold, was banned from attending this week's World Championships in Perth after he admitted that he had been involved in doping in East Germany.

If East German coaches are found guilty of harming athletes by giving them banned steroids, there is certain to be pressure on the International Olympic Committee to take medals away from some GDR winners and give them to other competitors. The IOC was not available for comment yesterday.