Heidi Kreiger

Negative Effects of SteroidsExcerpts from, “East German Steroids’ Toll: ‘They Killed Heidi‘”, originally published by The New York Times.

Andreas Krieger’s story remains one of the most prolific, yet heartbreaking, stories of steroid abuse. Krieger abused steroids so heavily that he underwent a sex change; he used to known as Heidi. But ‘Heidi’ didn’t want to abuse steroids; his government forced him to.

As many as 10,000 East German athletes were involved in a state-sponsored attempt to build a country of 16 million into a sports power rivaling the United States and the Soviet Union, recent trials and documents of the East German secret police have revealed.

While the idea of building an athletic super power is a worthy cause, East German sports officals did it in the worst way possible. Atheletes, even those that were still minors, were given anabolic steroids without their knowledge. There were state sponsored steroid programs that supplied the country with the steroids. This went on for years, as athletes were given pills that officals claimed were vitamins. In reality, it was Oral-Turinabol, and oral steroid. East Germany’s athletes were bigger and stronger beacuse of it; Andreas (Then known as Heidi) Krieger was the 1986 European women’s shot-put champion. But the steroids took their toll, and in 1997 Krieger underwent a sex change due to years of tremendous hormonal imbalances.

“They killed Heidi,” Krieger said.

East Germany’s then top sports offical and doctor have been convicted, but the lives shattered by steroids will never be fixed. More than 140 former East German athletes are considering filing suit against the German Olympic Committee. But there are many obstactles in front of them, one being that East Germany is no longer a country. But even then, money will never repair years of steroid abuse.

As Krieger sees it, no amount of money could restore his health, which he considers harmed by steroid use and secondary effects. He experiences such intense discomfort in his hips and thighs, from lifting massive amounts of weight while on performance-enhancing drugs, that he can no longer sleep on his side. Only the mildest physical exertion is tolerable. Long unemployed, he now works two days a week as a clerk for a real estate agent.

Police investigations have revealed that up to 2,000 former East German athletes are experiencing significant health issues due to the states doping of it’s athletes. Reported health issues include cancer, heart disease, infertility and even having children born with deformities. The story will not only remain as a blight on humanity, but as a heartbreaking tale of what happens when steroids are abused. Andreas is now married to a former East Germany athlete, Ute Krause, 41, a former East German swimmer.

Theirs began as a desperate kind of love. Ute and Andreas were former elite athletes, damaged by steroids, betrayed by coaches and officials they trusted and eager to testify against them. Both were once given to thoughts of suicide. They leaned on each other for information and support during the trials. Both had come to believe their drug-fueled performances were no longer legitimate.

In the saddest twist of fate, Andreas now has to take more hormones that will ensure he remains a male. The crimes committed to these athletes are heinous, and the results of what happens with steroid use is strong. Lives have been ruined by unknowingly taking steroids, how would Andreas and the other East German athletes react if you told them you were taken them on your own accord?

The list of negative effects of steroids is lengthy, don’t take your chances. If you’re a parent or coach, learn how to talk about steroids.

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