The crumbling of the Berlin Wall may unlock some of the secrets of East Germany's Olympic success -- for a price.
A report delivered at yesterday's concluding session of the U.S. Olympic Committee board of directors meeting in San Diego said East Germany is willing to sell "to all comers" elements of the sports technology and training techniques that made it a dominant Olympic power over the last 20 years.
It is among the biggest capitalistic ventures by East Germany since last winter's reforms brought down the wall built by Communists in Cold War days.
Purchase of the information by the United States "may provide us with a shortcut to our own needs," said the report by Andrew Kostanecki, chairman of the USOC's sports equipment and technology committee, and Jay Kearney, the organization's acting sports science program director.
The two had a receptive audience in the 100-member board, which passed a motion encouraging further talks and a follow-up report over the possible purchase of East German technology relating to luge, sailing, canoe-kayak, rowing and bicyling.
"We hope to get moving fast on this," Kostanecki said. "It's really our obligation. Our athletes deserve nothing less."
USOC President Robert Helmick said he would encourage the idea of importing East German sports technology.
"The bottom line is we want to help our athletes be the very best they can be. If one way to do that is to acquire technological expertise and information from another country, we'll do that," he said.
Nikolai Lents, secretary general of the Soviet Union's Olympic Commitee, also was intrigued by the report. He was attending the USOC meetings as an observer.
Kearney and Kostanecki wrote their report after a visit in late April to the East German Research Facility for the Development of Olympic Sports Equipment and Technology.
Kostanecki said the research facility's budget has been halved because of economic problems in East Germany. Sale of technology to the outside world is designed to ensure the facility's survival and keep the scientists working.