German officials blast IOC over Russia verdict

Prominent German sports figures blasted the "cowardly" IOC on Friday over its decision to allow 271 Russian athletes to participate in the Rio Games despite a rampant state-run doping programme.

German officials blast IOC over Russia verdict
Lars Mortsiefe of Germany's National Anti-Doping Agency said the IOC's decision "sends a poor signal for clean and fair sports". Photo: DPA

Top-ranking officials decried the decision as a “poor signal”, while others demanded the resignation of the International Olympic Committee's chief Thomas Bach, a German.

“We want to tell Bach: game over, you may leave,” said Ines Geipel, a former sprinter who now heads an association to help the thousands of ex-athletes involved in the former East German state's doping programme.

“The consistently cowardly manner in which the IOC deals with Russia is no more than pure cynicism,” she charged, adding that “lies and cover-ups are becoming the norm while the Olympic charter and good sense is being turned into laughing stocks.”

A board member of Germany's National Anti-Doping Agency, Lars Mortsiefer, also had strong words for the IOC, saying its decision “sends a poor signal for clean and fair sports”.

German athletics federation chief Clemens Prokop said the IOC had done “serious damage to its credibility”.

Given that the Russian drug abuse was state-orchestrated, “there should have been a decision against the system, and not against individuals,” said Prokop.

Anti-doping specialist Fritz Soergel meanwhile called it “a victory for Bach but not for honest sports”.

There were similar howls of derision in Britain, where many had called for a blanket ban on Russia in Rio.

Bach and the IOC had resisted that in the troubled build-up to the Games.

The Guardian quoted Professor Richard McLaren, whose explosive report blew the Russian doping programme wide open last month, as accusing the IOC and Bach of badly misrepresenting his findings.

McLaren, who was commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to investigate the claims of a Russian whistleblower, said his findings were never intended to prove individual doping cases.

And he said that the broader anti-doping drive had become “political and hysterical”.

Many British newspapers also took aim at the IOC, Bach, Russia and its President Vladimir Putin.

The Sun tabloid said it would publish “The real medal table” daily — which would not include any Russian medals or any previous drugs cheats.

“Sunsport believes the Olympics should stand for integrity and sporting ideals,” it thundered.

“The IOC backed away from banning Russia over the scandalous drugs cover-up that shamed sport and the country.

“But we are not scared of Vladimir Putin, or anyone else.”


Nurse weeps as tells German court of her blood doping role

A nurse, one of the co-defendants in the trial of a German sports doctor accused of masterminding an international blood-doping network, described on Friday how she helped athletes dope with illicit blood transfusions.

Nurse weeps as tells German court of her blood doping role
Mark Schmidt talks to his lawyer in court. Photo: Peter Kneffel/AFP
Sports physician Mark Schmidt, 42, and four co-defendants who allegedly aided him, stand trial in Munich accused of helping at least two dozen athletes undergo blood transfusions to boost performance.
So far, 23 athletes — mainly skiers and cyclists — from eight countries are known to be involved.
If found guilty, Schmidt and his co-defendants face jail for up to 10 years under anti-doping legislation introduced in Germany in 2015.
One of the accused, named only as Diana S., told the court how she first helped Schmidt in December 2017 when she travelled to Dobbiaco, Italy, to administer a blood transfusion before a skiing competition.
Blood doping is aimed at boosting the number of red blood cells, which allows the body to transport more oxygen to muscles, thereby increasing stamina and performance.
“It was about transportation, blood and athletes, but at first I didn't know what was behind it,” she is quoted as saying by the German media.   
“The treatments were always such that before the race the blood was taken in and after the races, the blood came out.”
She claimed to have been given precise instructions “via WhatsApp or by phone calls” where to go, which car to take, who to treat and how much blood to take or inject.
The trained nurse, who often sobbed while speaking, was told to dispose the bags of used blood on her way home after the “treatments”.
The single mother of three said she was motivated to earn extra money, having been told she would earn 200 euros ($237) per day.
At one point, she claims she told Schmidt that she wanted to stop.
“I told him that I was too agitated and too scared” to keep doing the clandestine work, because a sense of “panic travelled with me”, but Schmidt convinced her to stay involved. “It is also true that I simply had a shortage of money.”
Schmidt is alleged to have helped skiers who competed at both the 2014 and 2018 Winter Olympics and cyclists who raced at the 2016 Rio summer Olympics, as well as the Tour de France, the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a Espana.
He was arrested in Germany as part of Operation “Aderlass” — or “blood letting” in German — which involved raids at the Nordic world skiing championships in Seefeld, Austria in February 2019.
A verdict in the trial is expected by late December.