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'We need to clear this up,' says NADA's Gotzmann

December 10, 2016

With more revelations on the extent of the Russian doping scandal, the chair of Germany's NADA anti-doping agency, Andrea Gotzmann, demands consequences and a reaction from the IOC in a DW interview.

Deutschland PK Andrea Gotzmann NADA
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/A. Heinl

DW: The second McLaren report shows that Russia's doping swamp is even deeper than previously known. How did you react to the new data?

Andrea Gotzmann: At first I was speechless. What we're learning here about systematic and perfidious doping in Russian sport really did shock me. The facts Richard McLaren and his team got their hands on are really significant.

What shocked you in particular?

Firstly, the systemic nature of it all, but also the time-span: all this since 2012, even in preparation for the London Olympics. Then there's the sheer number of athletes; more than 1,000 from all manner of sporting disciplines, mainly summer sports but also winter ones and some Paralympic cases too. This sort of scale really is hard to imagine. One could very well now assert that it's time to rewrite the results lists. After all, we seem to have many winners who received medals on the podiums but really had not earned them because they were doping. We need to clear this up. Many people will now have the task of analyzing the 150 pages of material McLaren provided, before strongly demanding consequences for those individuals and institutions that are named in the report.

In your opinion, what should the consequences be?

We have a WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) code, which should be strictly applied in any and all situations. We already called for the complete exclusion of the Russian Olympic team after the first McLaren report. The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) followed through on this, as did the IPC, the International Paralympic Committee. But it wasn't implemented in full by all the relevant organizations.

Russland Thomas Bach und Wladimir Putin in Sotschi
The International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach nurtures close ties to Russia's President PutinImage: picture-alliance/dpa/EPA/B. Walton

By this, you're referring to the International Olympic Committee, which decided against a total Russian ban. Do you now expect a timely reaction from that organization, too?

Of course! We're facing a lasting crisis of credibility and must somehow restore clean athletes' trust in the international fight against doping. These sports stars are demanding fair and clean competition, just like us and all the fans watching at home. I believe that a process of reforms needs to be implemented. We at NADA have already made demands along these lines, along with 15 other partner organizations, calling for a strengthening of the World Anti-Doping Organization's power to act without regard for other sporting interests. We want to get rid of conflicts of interest. That's what we will be pushing for with gusto.

Against this backdrop, what are your thoughts on Russia hosting major sporting events?

Again, after the first report, we already recommended that this needs to be drastically scaled back. No further major events should be awarded to Russia.

Could revoking the 2018 World Cup, for instance, be used as a means to apply more pressure?

That's a decision that others have to make, but I do believe that nothing should be ruled out. And after that we need to look to the future and work out how we can make sport clean and credible once again, so that we have fair results. We owe at least that much to those athletes who practice their art normally - namely without doping.

What must Russia do to restore its reputation?

Here, too, far-reaching reforms are required. But what's needed first and foremost is acknowledgement that there is a problem and a change in the moral approach to what sport should really be: clean, fair, honest. This will require suitable testing and prevention methods, but also lessons of conscience, all of course with outside assistance. To this end, WADA has already implemented some new measures, but they need to be stricter, more detailed and they need to carry more consequences.

Russland Doping
McLaren's report details all manner of means to subvert the testing processImage: picture-alliance/AP Photo/L. Jin-man

Do you believe that Russia will be able to develop such a conscience - especially considering these initial reactions talking about unsubstantiated allegations, which seem to fly in the face of the known facts?

I believe that Mr. McLaren has indeed shown some evidence and proof, also of a forensic nature, when it comes to the manipulation and the swapping-out of doping samples. The evidence includes DNA tests. I believe these things can't easily be dismissed purely as propaganda. That's why we thank Richard McLaren for carrying out his investigations so painstakingly and for clearly saying that he would need time to do so. There were so many things to evaluate, so many witness testimonies, and also direct proof in doping analyses and other forensic methods, meaning that now we have a comprehensive picture.

A comprehensive picture for Russia, in any case. Do you think that conditions like these with links to the state or indications of government cover-ups really will prove unique to Russia? Or do we need to start considering other countries' practices?

I do believe that we have other problem areas, yes. That also became clear during the doping re-tests for the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympics; in hindsight, some countries were logging a notable number of positive test results. Names like Belarus kept cropping up, but also Ukraine. We need to look into ways to bring the anti-doping systems up to speed, perhaps by implementing an external testing system that is actually worthy of such a name.

Former German international basketballer Andrea Gotzmann has headed up Germany's National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) since September 2011. Prior to that, the chemistry graduate worked in the doping analysis laboratory at the German Sports University in Cologne.

Andreas Sten-Ziemons conducted the interview.