In Munich these days you can see the best example of the consequences it can have when an athlete unpacks about doping in front of criminal investigators. For a quarter of a year the trial against the former sports doctor Mark Schmidt and possible accomplices has been going on there before the Regional Court II. In the previous year, a suspected blood doping ring was uncovered, an extensive network spanning various sports and nationalities, and with every day of the court new abysses and ramifications open up. At the beginning of this whole process called “Operation Aderlass”, however, was that the former Austrian cross-country skier Johannes Dürr, 33, testified to the investigators.
The Dürr case is, of course, firstly a special case and secondly an exception. Because in Germany there has been an anti-doping law for five years that threatens to punish top athletes who do doping. But in the opinion of many experts and criminal investigators it has a serious shortcoming: There is no sport-specific leniency rule that motivates dopers to break out of the isolated sports scene and reveal the background.
Only three public prosecutors have a doping focus
That should change soon. On Wednesday, three federal ministries – Justice, Interior and Health – presented an evaluation report of the Anti-Doping Act, which is based on the opinion of two experts. One of their central findings is how necessary a leniency rule is – and this is what the federal government wants to implement. “Experience so far shows that we have to go further: We want to create a specific leniency program to protect insiders who disclose doping with their knowledge,” said Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD). Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) recommended that the idea be implemented “as soon as possible during this legislative period”.
How promising the proposed leniency rule can be will also depend on its specific form. As a second consequence of the evaluation of the law, there will be more public prosecutor’s offices for doping in the future. Currently there are only three: Munich, Freiburg and Zweibrücken.
It is also interesting that the ministries do not follow other recommendations of the experts – Elisa Hoven (University of Leipzig) and Michael Kubiciel (University of Augsburg). The work of the experts is based on the study of all procedural files related to doping from previous years and 18 expert interviews. In doing so, they worked out that as a result of the current legal situation, the public prosecutor’s offices are very much concerned with doping possession among athletes far from high-performance sport. “Too many resources are currently being used in recreational sports and the bodybuilding sector. We think it makes sense to focus the anti-doping law more on criminal cases of doping in competitive sport,” says Kubiciel of the SZ.
Another point concerns the group of perpetrators: So far, a violation of the self-doping ban only threatens to punish those athletes who belong to the test pool of the National Anti-Doping Agency (Nada) or who generate income of “considerable amount” from sport. That’s about 8,000 athletes right now. The experts complain about this situation. For example, at German individual championships in sports such as judo, situations arise in which, in a competition, an athlete who falls under the anti-doping law meets an athlete who is not affected by the anti-doping law. The experts therefore advocate expanding the group of perpetrators. “If you want to protect the integrity of the competition, the restriction to the test pool makes no sense,” says criminal law expert Kubiciel – and the restriction to not inconsiderable revenues in turn entails a high level of effort for the investigators.
This problem, it is now said by the ministries involved, would also be seen there. But the solutions proposed by the experts are not suitable. Therefore this question would now be examined.