TWO Bundesliga clubs, Stuttgart and Freiburg, are accused of being involved in doping throughout the late 1970s and into the 1980s.
An evaluation commission investigation into sports medicine at the university hospital in Freiburg has uncovered what it claims to be the first-ever proof of systematic anabolic steroid abuse in German football. Stuttgart partook in the scheme on a “large scale”, it has been alleged, while Freiburg were involved less frequently.
The announcement on Monday March 2 by Professor Andreas Singler focused on the activities of Dr Armin Klumper, widely seen as a sports medicine guru in West Germany during his career. Klumper, the new documents claim, oversaw systematic doping at both football clubs as well as the national cycling association (BFD).
The files which have brought the new information to light date back to a court case from 1984 to 1989 involving Klumper – a former head of sports trauma at the university clinic.
Sixty files have been examined by the commission, which is being chaired by Letizia Paoli, a criminologist who cut her teeth on the Mafia in Italy. Since 2009 she has been overseeing the investigation and has met resistance from the university itself as well as significant figures in German sport.
The commission has not yet decided whether to publish the interim report – the full version is due in autumn – and also stressed that no individual players involved could possibly be named.
Doping in what was then West Germany was an under-reported phenomenon in the 1980s when the spotlight settled instead on what was going on over the border in the East. However, that perception of western virtue was altered with the premature death of heptathlete Birgit Dressel in 1987 – a client of Klumper. The 26-year-old suffered sudden multiple organ failure brought on in part by long-term steroid abuse. Indeed, over 100 drugs were discovered in her system at the time of death including Megagrisevit, the steroid thought to be at the centre of the Freiburg investigation.
Stuttgart were quick to issue a statement, emphasising that the club had not yet seen the report: “For that reason Stuttgart cannot comment on what the allegations are based on and whether they are correct or not.
“The evaluation commission’s timespan is now several decades in the past so it is difficult for Stuttgart to retrace specific incidents that involved external doctors.
“It is important to stress that Professor Klumper was never a doctor of Stuttgart. Stuttgart is interested that full light is shed on this case as it supports clean sport.”
Nothing significant has yet been heard from Freiburg.
Stuttgart won the Bundesliga title in 1984 – during the timeframe of the investigation into Klumper. Former coach Hans-Jurgen Sunderman told SID this week that the allegations were “absurd”.
“Absurd” but not necessarily new.
The German authorities will be praying for a swift resolution to the latest doping investigation
Christoph Daum was Stuttgart coach in 1992 when he alleged that he had players in his squad who were treated with the calf-fattening agent clenbuterol – the same substance for which German track and field star Katrin Krabbe tested positive around the time of the Barcelona Olympic Games.
Football closed ranks and Daum made a hasty retraction. It has taken 23 years for further claims to be made in the form of this new report. And, as Fifa has acknowledged, the role of the whistleblower is vital in the fight against doping.
“While investigations as the primary means of proving doping violations are uncommon in sport, investigations have been successful in highlighting doping practises and developing novel approaches in the fight against doping in sport,” Fifa medical chief Professor Dr Jiri Dvorak wrote in the British Journal of Sports Medicine last year.
In the same issue, he wrote: “A significant proportion of athletes who deliberately cheat and are supported by their medical and paramedical personnel have managed to avoid detection and use illicit means to enhance their performance.
“Certain sports federations, sports disciplines and even countries may fear total transparency in examining their ‘doping cultures’ as acknowledgement may hurt their public image.”
Fifa insists there is no major problem with drugs in football. Dvorak told before the World Cup he was confident that there was “no systematic doping” in the sport.
Klumper, now 79, lives in South Africa these days and refuses to speak to the press. The German Football Association, the, DFB, has been silent.
When asked by Goal to comment, Dvorak merely directed me back to the association’s communications department.
There are claims that the West Germany World Cup-winning team of 1954 used Pervitin, a stimulant, and the 1966 team have been accused of ephedrine abuse. All of which have been denied by those involved.
Former national team goalkeeper Toni Schumacher was banished by his club Koln and the DFB in 1987 for publishing in his autobiography that doping was widespread in the Bundesliga.
Current Germany coach Joachim Low played for Freiburg from 1978 to 1980 and again from 1982 to 1984. In between, in 1981-82, he played for Stuttgart. “Doping has no place in sports, I refute it absolutely. That was true for me as a player and still applies today as a national coach,” Low said this week to SID.
Everybody needs to say more on this sensitive issue. So far it’s been the usual mix of “we need to wait for the full report” and “doping is wrong”.
Let’s make this the beginning because who has most to gain by proving we have a drug-free sport than the World Cup winners?