This editorial draws comparisons between the recent revelations of drug misuse in Russian sport, and the State-sponsored programme of the former German Democratic Republic. While 50 years separates these two regimes, there are commonalities. The history of major incidents involving drug abuse by serious national players in sport suggests a 20-year cycle, with the GDR, China and now Russia employing similar strategies. These events underscore the value placed upon international sporting success by politicians.
Half-heartedly acknowledged by the Russian Federation, the Soviet Union ran the world's largest offensive program for biological weapons, breaching the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention. Russia criminalized biological weapons in 1993 only to decriminalize them in 1996, but in 2003 president Putin partly recriminalized them. None of these changes were declared within the Convention. Several well-known official statements, when reviewed in their context, turned out to admit to neither an offensive program nor a breach of the Convention. Thus, the Russian biological weapons policy is more ambiguous than usually depicted, and various policy shapers can be discerned.