By Craig Lord
Lothar Kipke, the doctor in charge of a state plan to feed muscle-building drugs to 58 female swimmers, was described as the “Mengele of the East German doping system” as he was given a 15-month suspended jail sentence and ordered to pay a fine of DM7,500 ($3,950) by a court in Berlin yesterday. (Josef Mengele was the Nazi physician who carried out extraordinarily painful and gruesome medical experiments on human beings during the Nazi regime.)
Children born to six of the women are handicapped, their disabilities ranging from club feet to blindness. Kipke, who worked out of laboratories at the sports testing center in Leipzig, was found guilty of administering Oral Turinabol, an anabolic steroid, to the swimmers between 1975 and 1984.
At the top of the list are six swimmers who account for more than 20 Olympic titles and 30 world records among them, including Kornelia Ender, the first of the wundermadchen of the East German medal machine that dominated world swimming between 1973 until the Berlin Wall fell in 1989.
Michael Lehner, the lawyer representing five women bringing private cases, two of whom had handicapped children, called for the maximum sentence of two and a half years in jail allowed under the terms of state prosecutions for crimes associated with the former East German doping programme. Lehner said of Kipke: “He is the Mengele of the East German doping system. He is the perversion of the art of curing people.”
Kipke followed the tired pattern of “only following orders” when he stated in court: “I was just doing what they told me to do.” Martina Gottschalt, 34, whose teenage son has a club foot, replied: “Okay, look my son in the eyes and tell him that.”
Karen Koenig, another swimmer, said the sentence was too lenient. “It’s always the same,” she added. “They are presented to us as the poor old men who just did their best.”
Kipke cannot be tried twice for the same misdemeanour–assault on minors, in the official parlance. However, if new evidence pertaining to individual cases is brought forward, Kipke may face the prospect of private prosecutions by the likes of Petra Schneider, who now suffers serious health problems, and Barbara Krause, whose two children, both girls, were born with club feet. Krause, winner of the 100 and 200m freestyle at the Moscow Olympic Games, had previously shied away from a private prosecution but may now consider taking such action.
Kipke maintained in court that he had not known that increased body hair growth, deep voices and gynaecological and reproductive problems could be side-effects of administering anabolic steroids.
Craig Lord is the chief European correspondent for Swimming World and Swiminfo.com. This report was prepared with the assistance of special correspondents in Berlin.