Mercedes Ostrowski gets up at five in the morning almost every day. She takes a lot of time because she has to shave. For an hour. In summer, when clothes are scarce or when she wants to go to the beach, she has to repeat this procedure, once or twice a day. She then shaves her back, her chest, her face. The 20-year-old speaks openly about it. She says: "Maybe one day you have a man and then you want to enter into a relationship. Then you want to feel good in your body." While she is telling this, she strokes her brown hair behind her ear and shows where her sideburns grow. They are shaved, you don't see any stubble, she wears make-up over them.
Her mother Petra has a similar problem, she too has to shave often. The 55-year-old believes that all of this is due to the fact that she was once a competitive athlete in the GDR.
As a young girl, Petra Ostrowski trained canoeing in a Brandenburg preparation center for the German University of Physical Culture in Leipzig. At the age of eleven she had to take tablets, probably Oral-Turinabol, says Petra Ostrowski. From the beginning, she was given a larger blue and a smaller white, sometimes yellowish tablet on training days, she recalls.
"Blue lightning" was the nickname for Oral-Turinabol. The drug was probably the most widely distributed doping agent in the GDR. An anabolic steroid that makes muscles grow, makes athletes faster and stronger - and has extreme side effects. Women get deeper voices and beards, men get prostate diseases. Infertility and erectile dysfunction are also included.
Petra Ostrowski remembers that her body changed shortly after taking the tablets for the first time: Her muscles "exploded", her scalp hair fell out, her skin was swollen and cracked. Her hair has grown on her stomach and chest. She cried a lot and was emotionally unstable. She still struggles with some of the side effects to this day.
"Supporting means" was the internal name for doping in the GDR: "The term (...) was chosen to ideologically express clearly that training with all its principles is decisive for performance development" it is in the doping master plan, which was decided in 1974 and can be viewed as a template in public Stasi files.
But the well-considered expression does not do justice to the truth: the drugs - sometimes administered to athletes without their knowledge, sometimes forcibly administered - damaged the young bodies, some ruined them. All of this has been known for a long time. But now, almost 30 years after reunification, it is becoming clear that the attack on physical integrity may continue. And in the next generation: with the children of doping victims, with young women like Mercedes Ostrowski.
© Laurenz Bostedt
For her, sport is just a hobby, she has never taken anabolic steroids. But their hormonal balance is disturbed, so-called hirsutism was diagnosed, i.e. a male hair type that mostly results from too many male sex hormones. She only gets her period irregularly, sometimes she has no menstruation for two or three months. Mercedes Ostrowski is unsettled. In the worst case, the diagnosis means that she is sterile - an idea that torments the young woman because she desperately wants children. But she is also afraid that she could in turn pass on her suffering to her own children: that the first thought for her daughter after getting up could be of shaving, she wouldn't want to do that to her.
Mercedes Ostrowski is convinced that her hormone problems are caused by doping drugs that her mother probably got.