German National Anti-Doping Agency chief executive Andrea Gotzmann has heralded the “very important” steps taken by the nation’s Government after they agreed to launch a second wave of compensation to athletes affected by the East Germany doping scandal.
During a 20-year period in the 1970s and 1980s prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the German Democratic Republic (GDR) conducted a widespread state-supported doping regime, known as State Plan 14.25.
It is estimated that up to 9,000 athletes were part of the programme, often being given banned drugs without their knowledge.
It was overseen by the Ministry for State Security, known as the Stasi.
The programme yielded spectacular results as East Germany, a relatively small country at the time, enjoyed a rapid growth in success, particularly at Olympic level.
They went from winning 25 medals at Mexico City in 1968 to claiming 90 at Montreal 1976, 40 of which were gold, finishing second behind the Soviet Union.
East German athletes, considered the face of the Communist regime, then went on to win 37 gold medals in a total haul of 102 at the Seoul 1988 Olympic Games.
It, however, had adverse effects on the health of some of the athletes, many of whom were unaware of what was going on.
Around 2,000 athletes today struggle with illnesses and various other medical conditions, such as cancer, heart tumours, infertility and depression, as a result of their participation in the doping programme.
Andreas Krieger, winner of the gold medal in the women's shot put at the European Championships in Stuttgart in 1986 as Heidi Krieger, is one of the most notable examples.
He was forced to undergo gender reassignment surgery as a result of the effects the doping had on his body.
The German Government has pledged to give those athletes affected a one-off payment of €10,500 (£8,100/$11,600).
They are expecting many more athletes to come forward than the 194 who benefitted from the first batch of compensation payments in 2002 as some have only noticed the affects in recent years.
“It is very important to have this fund,” Gotzmann told insidethegames at the Tackling Doping in Sport Conference here.
“Some athletes have died because of the doping and others need help and support – many have illnesses such as cancer and they are all still at risk of depression.
“There are many more who aren’t able to talk.
“The main goal is for them to be accepted.”
Announcing the news, German Interior Minister Thomas De Maiziere said: “Today we take a step closer to our target of a renewal of the fund for GDR doping victims.
“Given the difficult fate and bad health of many of the GDR doping victims speed is of essence.”