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SPORT

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.

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UKRAINE

German football club ends partnership with Russia’s Gazprom

German football club Schalke 04 announced Monday it had prematurely ended its partnership with Russian gas giant Gazprom following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

German football club ends partnership with Russia's Gazprom

The deal between the second-tier German club and Gazprom had been due to run until 2025 with Schalke receiving around €9 million ($10 million) per year in sponsorship.

Had the Gelsenkirchen-based club won promotion back to the Bundesliga at the end of this season, the sponsorship figure would have risen to €15 million annually.

Schalke had already removed the Gazprom logo from their shirts for Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Karlsruhe.

In a statement, Schalke said their finances were “unaffected by this decision”.

“The club’s management is confident that it will be able to present a new partner in the near future.”

READ ALSO: OPINION: Germany has scuppered Nord Stream 2 but there are questions left to answer

Gazprom representative Matthias Warnig resigned from the club’s supervisory board last Thursday.

Hans-Joachim Watzke, interim president of the German Football Association (DFB), had already hinted there could be financial aid for Schalke if they split from Gazprom.

“If this requires the solidarity of other clubs in Germany to get them out of this situation, then we have to discuss how we can manage that,” Watzke told ZDF.

READ ALSO: Germany set to shut airspace to Russian planes on Sunday

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