German football in spotlight after commission findings

For decades the country sought to investigate East Germany’s systematic doping before the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 but there were indications doping was also present in West German sports.


Those suggestions have now, in part, been substantiated, said the evaluation commission on Freiburg University’s doping past with evidence pointing to cycling and football.

The 60-page report itself has not been published yet but Monday’s two-page statement released by one of the commission members, and confirmed by the commission, was enough to cause a furore.

Bundesliga club VfB Stuttgart, who won the league in 1984, and Freiburg, in the second division at the time of the claims, said they had yet to see the report which goes back decades, making cross-referencing information difficult.

Germany’s cycling federation (BDR) was reserved in its reaction on Tuesday.

“For the last 10 years, the German cycling federation has positioned itself clearly in the fight against doping and through prevention and information contribute to a new generation that sees manipulation for what it is. Cheating,” BDR general secretary Martin Wolf said.

Germany’s sacred cow — the Bundesliga football league — has never seen such allegations with only a handful of positive doping tests in the past several decades.

All of these were quickly dismissed as the fault of individuals rather than a network of organised doping, keeping the league’s drugs-free image intact.

But it must now face the most serious allegations yet with Stuttgart and Freiburg players having allegedly used banned substances.

The German Football Association (DFB) said that although it had not been informed of the case, it wanted full transparency.

“There are grave allegations here that of course need to be completely and fully cleared up,” DFB Vice President Rainer Koch said on the DFB website.

“One has to admit that the anti-doping fight in those years was not being conducted seriously and at the DFB it was not dealt with as meticulously as one would have wished.

“Today German football is very consistent and strict in its fight against doping. Especially in the last 20 years a lot has changed and a lot has been done,” he said.

The Football League (DFL), contacted by Reuters, did not want to comment on the findings at this time.

At the heart of the issue is former Freiburg University’s sports trauma unit chief Armin Kluemper, who allegedly provided athletes with anabolic steroids.

Evaluation commission member Fritz Soergel said, especially for football, it was time to confront these allegations.

“The DFB has been confronted with this since yesterday,” Soergel told German ZDF television. “After these revelations… and because football is the people’s sport, the most popular sport, no stone should be left unturned.”

(Editing by Ed Osmond)