Christian Schenk, the East German who won the 1988 Olympic decathlon, said he took performance-enhancing drugs starting in 1985 and later suffered from depression and contemplated suicide in his new autobiography, according to German media.
“At first I denied every having taken banned substances,” Schenk said, according to a German press agency DPA translation. “Then I settled for the legally softer answer, I had never knowingly doped. Both were lies.
“For me that was like reaching the next level, almost a tribute. Getting the pills meant I was on the squad and expected to perform well.”
Schenk, then 23, scored 8,488 points to grab gold in Seoul, topping countryman Torsten Voss by 89 points. Canadian Dave Steen took bronze, with 1980 and 1984 Olympic champion Daley Thompson in fourth.
“If a medalist cheated, someone else deserved that medal instead,” Steen said in 1988, according to the Globe and Mail. “But reopening results from 10 or 20 years ago is a tough call. I don’t know how you can prove someone was cheating, even if his name is on a list or in a file.
“I’m not going to kill myself over investigating [the East German] results. If someone tells me they’re going to do it, I’ll say, ‘Good luck.’ Unless you have athletes confessing, I don’t think there’s much you can do.”
Schenk’s name was on a list of doped athletes made public after the fall of the Berlin Wall, according to Olympic historians. He later became a German sports journalist.
Schenk also competed in three world championships: fifth in 1987, bronze in 1991 and fourth in 1993.
He was on the cover of the last 1991 issue of Sports Illustrated between weeks where Michael Jordan (Sportsman of the Year) and Muhammad Ali (50th birthday) were on the magazine covers.
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