Host City: Montréal, Canada
Venue(s): Olympic Pool, Montréal, Québec
Date Started: July 22, 1976
Date Finished: July 24, 1976
At the GDR Olympic Trials in June at Berlin, [Carola Nitschke] recorded 1:11.93 to break the world record and make herself the favorite in Montréal. But [Hannelore Anke] was the 100 and 200 breaststroke titlist from the 1975 World Championships, and she was expected to challenge Nitschke. In the heats Anke bettered Nitschke’s world record with 1:11.11, and in the semi-finals, she improved that to 1:10.86. The final would be her slowest swim of the Olympic event, finishing in 1:11.16, although that bettered the pre-Games world record and was almost two seconds ahead of the second-place finisher, as she won gold easily. The other medals went to Soviets [Lyubov Rusanova] and [Marina Koshevaya], as Nitschke faded near the end to drop off the podium and place fourth.
In The Complete Book of the Olympics, David Wallechinsky tells Nitschke’s story, “At the 1977 European Championships, Carola Nitschke was awarded a gold medal in the 4 x 100 metre [medley relay]. Since the age of 13, she had been taking the anabolic steroid Oral-Turinabol. She also received injections of the male hormone testosterone. Two years later she tried to train without drugs, but was unable to match her elite-level times. In 1998 Nitschke became the first doped athlete to return her medals and ask that her name be removed from the record books.”
One other woman not in Montréal was East German [Renate Vogel], who had set two world records in the 100 breaststroke in 1974 and that year also won the European Championship in both the 100 and 200 breast. But by the end of that year she was continually injured and tired of the training, and the various drugs she was required to take, so she quit swimming at the end of 1974, defected to West Germany in 1979, and later told the whole story of the East German swimming program and how they manipulated athletes and surreptitiously gave them performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs).