THAT the West German World Cup winning team of 1954 beat Hungary in the Final enhanced by drugs is something we have known for a long time. Indeed it was pretty plain soon after the Final itself with tales – not least from an enraged Ferenc Puskas – of German players vomiting in their dressing room.
When more than half that team succumbed to jaundice and were out for months it was plainer than ever that their remarkable second half rally against the Hungarians had a chemical basis. Just a few years ago, a dressing room worker revealed that he had found syringes below the floorboards.
Now, a shocking study by Berlin’s Humboldt University gives us chapter and verse in 800 pages not only of this conspiracy but of a government supported programme of enormous cost which began in the 1940s and went on for years. In Berne in that 1954 Final the spurious line was that the German players were being injected with vitamin C. In fact, this study discloses, it was pervitin an amphetamine. This drugging policy was as widespread and ruthless as that of the much discredited East Germans who pumped their pumped up girl swimmers full of drugs and ruined the lives of their massive female shot-putters.
In West Germany, as in the East, even small children of athletic promise were not immune from being surreptitiously doped. Anabolic steroids, testosterone, amphetamines and a hormone known as EPO were used. After 1954, FIFA did nothing. But then this was before the imposition of post match dope tests and it could have been hard; though there was surely enough evidence for an inquiry.
In 1966, according to the report, three West Germans in the 1966 World Cup Final were found to have imbibed the drug ephedrine though this may have been inadvertent as a result of taking a decongestant. In any event it was the Germans rather than the English – as Alf Ramsey pointed out to them before the start of extra time – who showed signs of exhaustion. England finished arguably the stronger and unlike 1954, West Germans players didn’t drop out in droves.
But footballers, it appears, were only the top of an horrific iceberg.