By Steven V. Selthoffer
BERLIN, Germany, July 10. STEVEN V. Selthoffer continues his two-part “The Winds of Change” series on SwimmingWorldMagazine.com as he addresses the anti-doping crusade. To read the first part, please click here.
“When the going gets weird, the weird go pro.”
Jef D’Hont, retired cycling team masseur, for Team Telekom and others, promoting his own book that triggered the crisis, details the sophisticated doping program overseen by two Freiburg University Clinic doctors Andreas Schmid and Lothar Heinrich. D’Hont is rarely seen on camera without a copy of his book held next to his head for maximum public exposure to drive sales. (Obviously, he feels his publisher’s marketing department is performing below par). D’Hont, through the chapters, named cyclists who allegedly doped, the methodology and exposed others in the doping supply chain.
D’Hont’s personal revelation of Ullrich doping was announced on a Sunday morning, simultaneously in a Paris, France newspaper and in Germany’s Bild am Sonntag, according to television news sources. The timed release with media pre-release coverage created another uproar. D’Hont disclosed that he himself gave Ullrich the syringe injection of EPO during Ullrich’s 1997 Tour de France victory.
Then, D’Hont in a psychological mind-twister, revealed “admiration” for the 2000 Olympic Champion who finished the Tour de France five times runner-up.
D’Hont said, “If everyone was clean, Ullrich would have won the Tour de France at least 10 times.”
And, according to media sources, D’Hont made the claim that Ullrich doped only because other riders did it, and that it was D’Hont himself, who called Ullrich to “repent” and “confess.”
“(Ullrich) did the same as all the others. It would be good for him to speak out and get things out into the open, it would liberate him,” added D’Hont.
Up to this time, Ullrich has remained silent. In the past, Ullrich has denied ever doping, and should be treated as innocent until proven guilty.
Interior Minister Schauble calls for tough penalties
Interior Minister Wolfgang Schauble said he was “appalled that there has been lying and deceit on this scale.”
“My big fear is now that the doping revelations won’t stay confined to cycling,” said Schauble.
It’s time to help the new Task Force that Interior Minister Wolfgang Schauble, CDU, has formed. Schauble is a tough, no-nonsense political executive who is fighting for clean sports. Schauble is forming the Task Force to examine possible misuse of taxpayer money used in doping. That doesn’t sit well with Herr Schauble, clean athletes and tens of millions of other Germans who have have nothing to do with, and who labored to overcome the stigma of the East German past.
Schauble stated, “Doping destroys the value of sport, its credibility, and its function as a provider of role models. Its approval by the public is being put to the test.”
Schauble and others are also exploring a new frame work for dealing with doping in sports that is tough, comprehensive, flexible and implemented for the good of sport, and the health of the athletes.
Sources say, Deutsche Telekom AG spends more than 61 million euros a year in sport sponsoring programs in Germany alone. T-Systems, (a DTAG business unit) is also the Official Chief Sponsor, financing South Africa’s America’s Cup entry, Shoshaloza. DTAG spends more per year than adidas and Nike in Germany. Executives love to be at the start and finish line of the Tour de France, but, they are no where to be seen during the latest revelation of doping scandals at the T-Mobile press conferences.
Part of the new Bundestag framework to combat doping in sport in Germany should include a new robust structure for corporate fines. Corporate sponsors should be financially penalized and corporate executives held accountable. Divide the penalty/donation among the agencies. Spread the contribution of the fines to WADA, NADA and the DOSB.
The Justice phase is now beginning
There is no statute of limitations between swimmers, cyclists, and athletes at the Olympics or Tour de France when doping, cheating or anything else is involved. There is none what so ever. The terms of justice and truth between athletes and coaches, between teams and countries must be met. It’s about being the best in the world, setting an example, and competing fairly. There is no way clean athletes, legendary coaches and a public majority will let them get away with it. It does no one any favors. The truth is, there are far more athletes who never doped than those who did. There is an overwhelming majority of coaches who have a sound, strong, moral foundation, than those who don’t. If sport leadership is so weak that it needs to play politics, then it should recognize who the majority really is.
For some cyclists and the East Germans, their self-medicating delusion was “everyone was doing it.” No, they weren’t. Doping provided a “Falsehood of Equality” with the West. As the German television media recently pointed out, it was a battle of national and moral values. Atheism versus the Christian West. The East Germans and Soviet Union were losing – and eventually lost The Big Game.
The International Olympic Committee is establishing its own Disciplinary Commission following the revelations concerning the Team Telekom cycling team and the German Olympic cycling participants. Chaired by Denis Oswald, OBE, AUS, the Commission will comprise members such as Sergey Bubka, Gunilla Lindberg and others. The Commission is tasked to conduct an investigation and submit recommendations to the IOC Executive Board with regards to the members of the cycling team, the Olympic team doctors and others. The IOC is driving a zero tolerance policy and is activating stringent means at all Olympic Games.
In the German Bundestag, Interior Minister, Wolfgang Schauble’s new anti-doping law has passed its first hurdle with the opposition party requesting an additional amendment. Schauble sent a clear warning to all sport federations to cooperate with the new legislation and the anti-doping movement.
Bundestag Chairman, Peter Danckert defended the new legislation design as a “very good step.”
The meeting also called for the immediate necessity of financially strengthening NADA, as reported previously in Swimming World Magazine earlier in March. Legislators are planning to meet again in August after summer recess.
U.S. track and field athletes have had their world records and medals stripped when doping is discovered. Rightly so. No complaints there. More to come. The cycling medals, jerseys and awards should be stripped from the athletes like in any other sport.
The world is still not at peace and has not forgotten the East German doping among swimmers at the 1976 and 1980 Olympic Games. The ramifications and fallout continues to this day in the new, united Germany, upon a new generation of German athletes and swimmers.
It seems as if sport has lost its way. It’s time to stop being “realists.” “Realists” need to be recalibrated. The public wants and expects a climate of moral excellence in sports. It’s time to reset the governing sport standards to the highest possible levels for competition and for the administration of justice. The Olympics are about human and sport excellence, playing by the rules, in spirit and letter. It’s the Athletes’ Games. Somewhere, that’s been lost. It’s time for the dog to wag the tail and for the priorities of clean athletes to prevail in the coming justice phase of the scandal.
Justice in Germany and elsewhere, with cycling and swimming will now have to be analyzed, monitored, and measured. What do the athletes who never doped deserve? Will they get their Olympic medals? Will they get the recognition as being the world record holders they rightly deserve? Will other cyclists be awarded lucrative jobs in sports media, with sport federations and with top corporations? Or will those who doped and cheated be able to keep their posts in sports, to keep their lucrative corporate contracts and profit more now and in the future due to their “heroic” confessions?
“It ain’t over till the fat lady sings.” Whitten, Counsilman and the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games
The baton has been passed. Justice and truth are now hanging in the balance. It remains to be seen if the current sport leadership has the backbone to bring justice to their own backyards, before developing frameworks and recommendations for other countries.
The fresh, new, young generation of German athletes, do not deserve to be constantly under a cloud of a suspicion of doping and to suffer from the dark deeds of the East German past. That must be rectified.
Recently, the media reported and IOC press spokesperson attending the 119th IOC Session in Guatemala City, Guatemala, confirmed that IOC President, Jacque Rogge, citing the Olympic Charter Law of the Statute of Limitations of eight years, during a media conference call, stated that it would be legally difficult to take the medals away from the cyclists after eight years. And that it may also complicate matters with the 1976 Olympics as the German media reported, that possibly the Olympic medals given to the East German swimmers in 1976 would not be taken away from them.
A deep collective moan of pain and injustice circled the Earth once again. Damaging the hopes and dreams of thousands of athletes who who never doped, who compete fairly and want to see justice in sports.
The Theme of the 119th IOC Session in Guatemala is “Olympic Values – More Important Than Ever.” IOC President Jacques Rogge emphasized that, in today’s world, the Olympic values are perhaps more important than ever, and stressed the IOC’s “deep commitment to putting athletes at the center of the Olympic Movement. Athletes are our ‘raison d’etre’ – from meeting their training needs to ensuring perfect playing fields and smoothly run Games…”
The opportunity to reinforce, honor and reward Olympic athletes for the highest values they have abided by and stood for, should not be missed and should be an integral part of the overall comprehensive solution to the doping problem with the Bundestag, the IOC, the DOSB and other federations.
The precedent is firmly established and legally sound, that, no IOC law would prevent Rogge from awarding Olympic medals to Shirley Babashoff from the U.S., Gabrielle Askamp of West Germany, Enith Brigitha of The Netherlands, Anneliee Maas of The Netherlands, Shannon Smith of Canada, Rebecca Perrott of New Zealand, and other swimmers as co-Olympic champions as the IOC has in the past in other cases. That is the right thing to do. There are no obstacles or objections to having the medal ceremony that men and women of goodwill cannot overcome.
Peter Ueberroth, Chairman, USOC, Jim Scherr, CEO, USOC, and USA Swimming should initiate and engage their good friend and counterpart, Dr. Thomas Bach, President, DOSB and seize the moment. Help their friends make it happen. Its not about medals. Its about justice. Its about re-establishing the Olympic values together, healing the past and moving forward.
Doping scandals are a negative issue, and a cleansing process, but, the opportunity to award the individuals who have upheld the Olympic values in competition, without wavering, enduring decades of severe disappointment under the most extreme and difficult testing, should not be forgotten or omitted.
Clean athletes who compete by the rules in the Olympic Games deserve justice from the IOC President, the IOC Justice Commission, FINA, the USOC, USA Swimming and others. Clean athletes who compete by the rules deserve their medals. No exceptions. No excuses. WADA should also endorse the move. A ceremony should be set up at the pool before the Beijing Olympic Games. The global applause will be thunderous.
Phil Whitten, James Counsilman, Werner Franke, Peter Daland, Jack Nelson, Nick Thierry, Mark Schubert and others fought for more than 30 years for justice, to start a WADA-type organization, to expose and fight doping in sports and to develop the robust framework necessary to bring it into submission and drive it down to negligible levels.
This summer pressure must be applied to the IOC, DOSB, DSV, FINA, the UCI and others in the Bundestag to right wrongs, to strip cyclists and others of their titles and to award the 1976 Olympic swimming medals to the rightful recipients. As the European sport media recently reiterated, the turmoil continues. There has been no peace in the sporting world since the doping in swimming at the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games. A dark cloud still persists over German sports from the East German swimming performances. Rewarding clean athletes should be an integral part of the solution.
There is no statute of limitations personally among world-class athletes and coaches when premeditated doping or cheating is involved. There never is – whether it’s on the pool deck or in cycling. It’s a character issue, not a medical issue. Justice is difficult work and justice and truth in the Olympics and among athletes must, and will be served.
* Due to the volume of numerous technical translations from various sources in German and French into English, we apologize in advance for any inaccuracies or misstatements regarding the news reports. Thank you.
** We would like to thank Msr. Thomas Vial for his valuable assistance on this article. Mr. Craig Lord, The London Times for his perspective and insights, Mr. Guido Ross, and our friends in sports and the governing bodies.
DOSB – Deutscher Olympisch SportBund (German National Olympic Committee)
Grune Party – The Green Party, one of the five main political parties in Germany.
IOC – International Olympic Committee
NOC – National Olympic Committee
AFLD – French Anti-Doping Organization housing the laboratory
WADA – World Anti-Doping Agency
NADA – Nationale Anti-Doping Agentur (the National Anti-Doping Agency for Germany)
NADO – The generic term for a National Anti-Doping Organization of any country
TdF – Tour de France
PEDs – Performance Enhancing Drugs
EPO – Erythropoietin (a blood boosting drug preferred for long distance improvement to
UCI – Union Cycliste Internationale (International Cycling Union)
CAS – Court of Arbitration and Sport, Lausanne, Switzerland
CDU – Christian Democratic Union (a German political party)
SPD – Social Democratic Party (a German political party)
Nederlands Meetinstituut (Netherlands Measurement Institution)