Geipel: ″Doping of minors is a form of child abuse″ | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 16.08.2013
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Geipel: "Doping of minors is a form of child abuse"

The study on doping in West Germany continues to raise questions; Ines Geipel, Chairperson of the Doping Victims Assistance Organisation, deplores the doping of minors.

DW: It appears organized, systematic and widespread doping was tolerated even by politicians. Is that hard to believe in a democratic country like Germany?

Ines Geipel: What we know today is that, in 1971, systemic research into doping was started. For the details, the researchers must, in my view, delve a little further. But some facts are clear: Underage doping, blood doping, the influence of politics in sport. That's all sad enough. In Freiburg and Saarbrücken, there were actual doping center where it was conducted systemically. By the comments of former athletes, it is clear that doping was a matter of course there.

To what extent can the doping systems in West and East Germany be compared?

This comparison is actually still hard to make. But what is clear from the report is that in both countries there had been very similar thinking from those responsible. Back in the early 70s, there was a massive push behind doping. I'd still make a categorical distinction between the systemic pro-doping research in the west and the forced doping system in the East, which was imposed from above. The athletes in the East did not have the power of choice their counterparts in the West had.

Members of the research group are sure documents were destroyed before they could be accessed. So are we only seeing the tip of the iceberg?

This needs to be clarified. Apparently, there many documents were shredded in 2005 and 2006. In addition, the study examines only the period up to the year 1990. And now there is a real danger that any files that may document doping that occurred after 1990 may disappear into the shredder too. The politicians need to act quickly now to prevent that from happening.

The documents contained references of child doping. Were children drugged in West Germany?

It certainly looks that way. There seem to be records of doping administered to children as young as 11. The thought of this makes me feel horrible. Child doping is a kind of mental and physical abuse.

From your own experience with the doping system in the GDR, what are the effects of doping on minors?

As chairperson of the Doping Victims Assistance Organization, I see a lot of documents detailing the effects of doping. In particular, administering steroids - male hormones - at a very early age can cause massive damage later: Cancer and mental disorders. Many former athletes who we deal with are victims of addiction, and have been patients in mental hospitals. The damage can be seen in the next generation, namely disabled children with clubfeet, hydrocephalus and dyslipidemia. In addition, former athletes have suffered from organ damage to the heart, kidney, or liver. These are very, very serious diseases. For us, it is often difficult in these cases to be useful in any way. 12,000 former East German athletes were forced to dope. About 15 percent of them have permanent damage and we have a long list of those who have died. The athletes who would now be between 45 and 50 years old are almost all gone.

Can you those who have administered doping to young athletes ever be prosecuted?

Yes of course! The files on doping have to be made public in their entirety. There are over 800 pages, with many potential offenders named. That would only be fair, in former East German cases no names were held back and there have already been convictions. Doping is a criminal offence, and now those responsible must be held accountable.

Your organization has helped around 600 doping victims, yet only from East Germany. It is time now to discuss compensation for doping victims from West Germany?

I'm all for it. When it comes to repairing the damage, there should be no difference between East and West.

German trainers, sports doctors and sports scientists are also active in numerous foreign countries. Is it possible that athletes there were also subject to German doping practices?

That was common after 1989. Just look at the GDR coaches who went abroad to produce records and medals. I believe that officials and coaches who were part of that system need to be questioned publicly. Otherwise they should not be working in sports where they are dealing with professionals, but also of young athletes and their aspirations.

How credible are the statements by leading politicians, such as the-then Interior Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, to have known nothing of systematic doping?

The doping study shows clearly that politicians such as Hans-Dietrich Genscher and also Wolfgang Schäuble called for medals in Munich just before 1972 Olympics. It was a direct order to sport.

A large part of the doping study was dedicated to a research paper titled "Testosterone and regeneration", attributed to sports medicine doctor Bernd Wolfarth. He is now a senior doctor with the DOSB (Germany Olympic Association) and on the medical commission of NADA (National Anti-Doping Agency). What does that say about sport and its anti-doping fight?

Everyone can judge for themselves. There is already controversy surrounding Wolfarth, but I believe that certain people at the DOSB are protected ... And then there is [DOSB President] Thomas Bach, who says he knew nothing of all this. A top athlete with medals around his chest from the 70s knows nothing of doping? I think that's all pretty ridiculous.

Ines Geipel is chairperson of the Doping Victims Assistance Organization and recognized as an expert in doping. While she vigorously fights against doping in Germany today, she was herself an involuntary doper. As a successful sprinter, she was part of the doping program in East Germany. In 1984, while doping, she was part of a 4x100m relay team to post a world-record time of 42.20 seconds. The record was later challenged and struck off by the German Athletics Federation. She was forced to quit her athletic career after refusing to participate in compulsory doping in the East Germany regime.

The interview was conducted DW's Joscha Weber.