A study revealing decades of widespread, government-backed doping in former West Germany was leaked to a newspaper this weekend. Now there are mounting calls for all the information to be made public.
In 2008 researchers at Berlin's Humboldt University were commissioned by the Federal Institute for Sports Science, on behalf of the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB), to investigate the usage of performance enhancing substances in West German sports since the 1950s.
They found that for decades the German government financed experiments with such drugs. But while the 800-page document was completed in April, it has still not been published. DW asked DOSB spokesperson Christian Klaue to explain the reasons.
DW: When did you commission the study and why?
Christian Klaue: Just after the German Olympic Committee was founded in 2006 the organization decided that an honest look at history was a prerequisite for implementing a zero-tolerance approach to doping. And then in 2008 it was decided to go ahead with the study.
When did you receive the final report?
I cannot tell you that, because the Federal Institute for Sports Science (BISp) obtained it first and then passed it on to us and the interior ministry simultaneously. Currently only the members of the scientific advisory board of the German Olympic Committee have seen the report, but they are bound by a confidentiality agreement, so they are not permitted to disclose any information yet.
Why did they have to sign such a confidentiality clause?
That was part of the deal, the researchers also had to sign such an agreement.
But someone must have violated it because the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper quoted from the report. Were you surprised at the reactions to the revelations?
A lot of the information is not really new. Other researchers published similar findings before. This latest study has the title “Doping in Germany from 1950 to today. A historic and sociological evaluation in the context of ethical legitimacy” ("Doping in Deutschland von 1950 bis heute aus historisch-soziologischer Sicht im Kontext ethischer Legitimation"). So it was the intention to contextualize findings and evaluate them to help us understand what happened and why. So it will be very interesting to read the entire document. Only then will we be able to see how the researchers interpret their findings and how other researchers evaluate them.
So there are no surprises and everything has been known all along?
Whether or not any of this comes as a surprise is irrelevant. What is important is that all the facts are on the table now and can be discussed. Only then can we consider what political steps to take. The German Olympic Committee will look at the findings carefully, and analyze them before drawing any conclusions.
Why did it take so long to come to the decision to conduct such research into West German doping practices?
There have been several commissions which dealt extensively with the history of doping. There was the Richthofen commission in the early 1990s. But it was only after the German Olympic Committee was founded in 2006 that Thomas Bach suggested a more comprehensive approach. And now it won't be long before we have all the results on the table.
Would you say that different standards were applied to investigating doping procedures in East and West Germany?
Of course we had a completely different situation in East Germany, where there was a completely different kind of documentation, which was much more extensive than what we had in the West. So that was why we thought it was necessary to conduct a comprehensive study on the basis of previous ones conducted by Singler/Treutheim and Berendonk.
But it seems that the publication of the findings has been delayed – data protection reasons were cited, but now there is talk of publishing the complete findings including the names. So who has to be worried now?
No one has to worry. And nothing has been delayed. I really have to object strongly to such statements. It is rather the case that the findings, which were completed only in April this year, had to be verified by the scientific board and the government's data protection officer and now we are ready to publish.
But the researchers have said that it was not clear all along that the findings would really be published.
So far we have always said that the researchers publish their findings, but the German Olympic Committee is in favor of publishing it on several platforms. We could see the study being published on the Sports institute website. But that is not for us to decide.
The interview was conducted by Olivia Fritz.