By the 1980s, steroid use was growing throughout the sports world, and scientists were fighting a constant battle to catch up with ever-more-sophisticated doping techniques. At the Pan American games in 1983, organizers asked West German scientists to set up a lab to test for illegal drug use. It was the first time a large number of positive tests became public. Steroids were becoming pervasive, and all athletes were affected. But while the opportunity to use performance-enhancing drugs was present, there were differences between the East German methods and everybody else’s. Doping in the GDR was different from the doping in the West of the world but it was also different from the doping in other parts of the East. It was German, it was orderly, it was bureaucratic, it was written up.
One person who did manage was 44-year-old Olympic silver medallist Katharina Bullin. Now masculine, her bones are like that of an 80-year-old. Sitting and walking are painful. As a young girl she was whisked away to a residential training camp to become a GDR success. Without her knowledge anabolic steroids, testosterone and other drugs were mixed into her food, given to her as "vitamin" pills and injected. This enabled her to perform at levels higher than her formidable talents would have taken her. Up to 50 hours of hard training a week pumped with drugs pounded her young body. By 15 she played in the women's volleyball team as well as with the girls – an "honour".