Bridging the Gap from the Nazi Era
"Ewald bridged the gap from the Nazi era, and he brought with him an unfortunate wealth of information about pharmaceuticals and an attitude of winning at all costs, winning that had to do with the international political stage," Steven Ungerleider, author of "Faust's Gold" (St. Martin's Press, 2001), which detailed the East German doping system, said yesterday. While many suspected that East German athletes were cheating, the International Olympic Committee looked the other way. Upon becoming president of the I.O.C. in 1980, Juan Antonio Samaranch grew primarily concerned with unifying an Olympic movement driven by American and Soviet boycotts, not with halting drug use. In 1985, Mr. Samaranch presented Mr. Ewald with the Olympic Order, the highest honor in international sports, in an effort to prevent East Germany from boycotting the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul, South Korea. This would later prove to be one of Mr. Samaranch's most embarrassing moments. Every medal won by East Germany has now been tainted by the specter of drug use, but the I.O.C. has declined to revoke any of the medals, saying that history cannot be rewritten.