Concerned over its sixth-place overall finish in the Athens Olympics, Germany is taking steps to centralize its athletic training program in a move reminiscent of the notorious East German training machine, the Wall Street Journal reports. In a country where membership in local sports clubs is the norm for athletes, the government is lavishly funding sport-focused schools offering a solid shot at gold.
East Germany’s sporting-school system, associated with ruthless training and steroids, was dropped after the country’s unification. But Germany, which boasts the second-highest number of total gold medals, has seen its Olympic ranking slip over the past few Games. Now, following the lead of countries like Australia and Japan, it is supporting a renaissance of centralized support for sport—without the steroids.