Historical Social Research

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Michael Krüger: History of Sports Medicine in Germany. Some Preliminary Reflections on a Complex Research Project [Abstract]

The paper presents the concept underlying a research project on the history of sports medicine in Germany. The origins and most intensive development of sports medicine have been in Germany. In fact, sports medicine in Germany is associated with various doping scandals from the past, beginning with the Sports Medical Service in the former East Germany, which consistently delivered so-called “sustaining means” to East German athletes. However, so too were there the West-German networks of doping doctors like those at Freiburg University, represented by such protagonists as Joseph Keul and Armin Klümper. However, (West-) German society has made these and other sports physicians into celebrities, which seems to be unique compared to other countries. Yet the history of German sports medicine is by no means limited to unethical or even illegal doping. Sports doctors also initiated anti-doping concepts. Beyond doping and anti-doping, the history of German sports medicine reveals a broad spectrum of genuine medical aid and research, all located somewhere between prevention, medical and social aid, medication, trauma surgery, and rehabilitation by means of physical exercise, education, and sports. Sports medicine, not only in Germany, “sells” movement and sport as the most effective and legitimate drug against diseases of every kind, and for health and well-being. The project aims to research the remarkable and ambivalent history of German sports medicine by studying new and complex historical documents and oral history. The first and main part of the article provides essentially a state of the art history of German sports medicine, including an overview of the essential steps comprising its complex historical development. The second part is an attempt to conceptualize the current research project with respect to the various issues within this history.

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