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German Trials

Only Minor Guilt Established For Coaches
Victims Consider The Penalties Laughable


Karin Helmstaedt

Two Dynamo Verdicts

Rolf Glaeser took a hard look at his future. And decided to act. A week after witnessing the convictions of five of his former compatriots in the trial of coaches and doctors from the TSC Berlin club, the 58-year-old former Dynamo coach quietly requested an audience with State Prosecutor Hillebrand. He was prepared to make a confession. On August 26, the 24th day of proceedings, the court heard him speak for the first time. Standing, with head bowed and one hand leaning on the table in front of him, Glaeser admitted to having given drugs to his female athletes between 1979 and 1984. He claimed that a lack of medical knowledge prevented him from foreseeing any consequences, and that he never intended to harm anyone. He apologized to his former swimmers, saying that his explanation was meant in all honesty.

And so it happened that on August 31, Rolf Glaeser and Dr. Dieter Binus (who confessed in July to having distributed Oral-Turinabol pills) were convicted of nine counts of grievous bodily harm and fined 7200 DM ($4400 US) and 9000 DM ($5500 US) respectively. The prosecution had asked for double that amount. While Glaeser accepted the verdict, Binus's lawyers are appealing to the highest German court, the Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe. In Binus' case, Judge Brautigam said the court was convinced that injections had been administrated by Binus in at least two cases, but that time, date, and place were too difficult to determine so long after the fact. "It is clear that underage girls were knowingly mistreated," he said, adding that the damages sustained by some of the swimmers can at least be linked with the use of anabolic steroids.

In his judgement Brautigam also gave credence to the numerous Stasi files used as proof of the GDR Doping system. "The blatant and detailed reports are an abomination," he said.

Although Glaeser's employers, the Austrian Swimming Federation, showed little concern during the proceedings, the verdict seemed to shake them into action. Within one week, Glaeser lost his job. Said a spokesman, "The decision has been a difficult one, but after Glaeser's confession we were left with no alternative. We can no longer work with him." Glaeser had worked in Linz as Austria's national swimming coach since 1990, and coached Austria's Vera Lischka to a fifth-place finish in the breaststroke at the Atlanta Olympics.

The Missing Document

In early September, Harm Beyer, former President of the German Swimming Federation and present head of the FINA Doping Panel, appeared in court to "explain" in his own words what had become of a document that could constitute valuable evidence in the Dynamo trial. According to Beyer, a document made up at a meeting in 1991 in which about twenty East German coaches admitted they had been involved in doping, was his initiative in order to diffuse the "guilt" in a potentially sticky situation as East German coaches sought to be reintegrated. But when police came to Beyer last year looking for it, the paper had mysteriously disappeared. On the grounds that he has moved twice, Beyer was at a loss to explain how it was lost from a safety deposit box, and claims he is still looking for it.

Beyer, the 62-year-old Hamburg judge, maintained that he has always been a strong opponent of doping, and criticized sharply the DSV's (German Swimming Federation) decision in 1992 to hire Dieter Lindemann. The decision, made after he had stepped down as President, was made in order to avoid jeopardizing Franziska van Almsick's prospects at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. While Beyer could not remember who had signed the document, he maintained that Lindemann was not one of them. "I'm well aware of the fallibilities of the human memory," said the judge smugly to his judge. "I simply can't remember." Merely days before, a State Prosecutor in Frankfurt had denied the opening of investigations against the three members of the 1991 ad hoc Commission for the clearing up of the GDR Doping legacy. Beyer was one of them.

And Then There Was One

By mid-September, the remaining defendants in the Dynamo trial started to drop out. The case against Volker Frischke ended with a pecuniary penalty of 5,000 DM ($3000 US) on September 14. Frischke's lawyer said, "The end of the precedure in no way indicates an acceptance of guilt." Frischke, whose coaching position with the DSV was terminated in 1997, is suing, along with fellow accused Dieter Lindemann, the Federation on grounds of unlawful dismissal.

DSV President Ruediger Tretow told SID (the German Sport Information Agency), "Nothing has changed for us. We did not let him go because of the charges against him, but because he was involved in doping, something he always denied to the Federation. The DSV will not take him back unless forced by the Labour court to do so."

Although the lawyers of the last three defendants claimed they were holding out for an acquittal, Lindemann left the courtroom on September 28 with a penalty of 4,000 DM ($2500 US). The former coach of world champion Franziska van Almsick had his lawyer read a statement to the court. Lindemann, well known for his arrogance, maintained that as a trainer of junior athletes, he was "never involved in the Doping conception, never gave Doping substances to my swimmers, and that I always spoke out against Doping." He made further outlandish statements to the former communist party newspaper. "Dieter Krause followed on his heels. On October 5 he accepted a penalty of 3,000 DM ($1850 US), donned a pair of dark glasses, and left the courtroom after shaking the hand of his compatriot Dr. Bernd Pansold and three of the court orderlies. "Adieu," he said, before stealing down the hallway with his briefcase in front of his face. His lawyers refused to comment.

The penalties imposed are neither an aquittal nor a conviction, but an acceptance of minor guilt. They also allow the defendants to avoid sharing in the now astronomical costs of the trial. Pansold is therefore the last one in the dock in a trial that is petering out into absurdity. Dr. Birgit Heukrodt-Meineke, one of the victims and a witness at the trial, commented acidly, "Compared to what was done with us, the penalties they are getting are laughable. Absolutely laughable." Indeed, the week after Lindemann's case ended, a witness appeared that had trained under him from the ages of 12 to 17. She detailed to the court how she had received pills of every colour from her coach. That she had noticed her voice deepen. That coach Lindemann had given her pills to "dissolve under her tongue" at competitions. Of Pansold, who sat slumped on the bench between his two yawning lawyers, she had no memory.

Berlin's Chief Prosecutor Looks to 2000

In a nationwide radio interview on August 31 Berlin's Chief Prosecutor, Christof Schaefgen, announced that former East German sport leaders (apparatchiks) are not likely to appear in court for their part in the doping crimes until the year 2000.

Investigations of those responsible for East Germany's now well-known state-controlled doping program, such as former DTSB President Manfred Ewald, will only be concluded in the course of 1999. According to Schaefgen, no investigations of Egon Krenz, the former Sport Minister and successor to Erich Honecker as the state's leader, were underway. He said that time will put the justice system under increasing pressure. "There is a statute of limitations on October 2 of the year 2000, so any verdict must be reached by then," he added. In relation to the doping of minors, there are well over one hundred cases pending trial. The Prosecutor expressed the hope that in future trials, the accused will have learned a lesson from the groundbreaking Dynamo and TSC procedures: that speaking the truth can spare the athletes the emotionally trying experience of medical examinations and testifying in court.

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