Thomas Bach, who is the frontrunner to succeed Jacques Rogge as president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), told AFP that the report into doping in West Germany had been overblown and there was almost nothing new in the study.
The report caused a storm in Germany when published by the interior ministry. It described a broad government-backed doping programme by West Germany in the 1970s.
Its contents were earlier leaked to the Süddeutsche Zeitung, provoking concern that West Germany had a similar doping programme to their East German neighbours and Cold War rivals.
But Bach, 59, who has appointed a former judge to head an independent body to analyse the report, said the leaked documents had not told the whole story.
“The study was carried out, but before the official publication of the report, another one, the preliminary one, was leaked to the press,” Bach said in an interview in Moscow, where he is attending the World Athletics Championships.
He added: “Some people tried to make it into a scandal and this carried on for three to four days.” The report was then put online and Bach claimed that after being read in full it “become clear to them there is no scandal. There really is nothing much new in the report that wasn’t known before,” he said.
Bach, who first called for life-long bans for athletes caught doping back in 1981, said he had asked for the report to be drawn up initially because of largely domestic issues. “Doping in East Germany was very well documented but our friends in the East had the feeling – and they were right in some respects – that other parts of the West, not just West Germany, had doping programmes at the time,” he said.
“I spoke to Professor Arne Ljungqvist [IOC member and vice-chairman of the World Anti-Doping Agency] and he said this was not a case of West Germany versus East Germany, it was the Eastern bloc against the West.”
Bach, who was a top class fencer and won Olympic foil team gold at the 1976 Games in Montreal, said the way doping operated in the two regions was diametrically the opposite.
“In the East it came from the top down, in the West there was some research coming from some scientists,” he said. “This is, of course, open for discussion and will no doubt be covered by the independent body which has experts on doping on the panel.”
Bach, who dismissed suggestions the leaking of the preliminary report was to deliberately damage his election prospects to succeed Rogge in September, said during his time as an athlete he had never directly come into contact with doping.
“You heard things and read some stories in the newspapers, that something was going on in different sports. This actually led to the 1981 (IOC) Athletes Commission calling for life bans,” he said. “However, as far as my career goes I was never offered doping products.”