Doctor accused of helping top athletes dope

Doctor accused of helping top athletes dope
Photo: DPA
A doctor considered well connected to several German Olympians is being investigated on suspicion of performing blood doping transfusions for nearly 30 elite athletes.

Erfurt sports physician Andreas Franke may have taken blood from up to 28 German athletes, then exposed it to a special ultraviolet light and re-injected it in order to improve their performance at sports competitions, according to an investigation by Germany’s National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA).

Five-time Olympic speed skating gold medallist Claudia Pechstein – who has been previously suspended amid allegations of doping – as well as former runner Nils Schumann, who won a gold medal in the 800 metres event at the 2000 Olympics are among those implicated in the scandal, according to a report by public broadcaster ARD.

Franke argued in a four page statement that his methods were used to prevent infection and have “absolutely no performance enhancing effect.” He said NADA had previous investigated his techniques and determined they were not doping.

NADA Chairman Andrea Gotzmann said calm was needed as officials look into the allegations.

“Of course we examine every single case in which prohibited methods may have been used regardless of whether we’re dealing with young athletes or Olympic champions,” he said.

If the allegations are substantiated, Franke may not only be banned from treating elite athletes, but could face criminal charges and lose his medical licence.

German athletes responded with immediate disdain to the allegations.

Pechstein, banned from the 2010 Olympics amid allegations of blood doping, said she was not a target of the investigation, and added that she had never used “disallowed means or methods” as part of her training.

Schumann called the situation “humbug.”

“I have myself never enjoyed prohibited or questionable treatment methods and expressly distance myself from them,” he said.

The Local/DPA/mdm

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