SWIMNEWS ONLINE: September 1997 Magazine Articles

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European Swimming Championships

German Team Distressed


Karin Helmstaedt

SEVILLA - August 16, 1997. Three o'clock sharp. A four-minute broadcast on German television (ARD) slammed the German Swimming Federation (DSV) about the recently released information regarding two of the coaches accompanying the German Swim Team to Sevilla.

The previous week's news that Uwe Neumann, coach of Jens Kruppa and former coach of Olympic gold medallist Rica Reinisch, and Bernd Henneberg, coach of Dagmar Hase, were informal collaborators with the East German State Security, or "Stasi," hit hard. Doping accusations aside, the two face a possible dismissal for breach of contract, having signed contracts with the DSV in which they state they were never involved with the Stasi.

A further damning piece of evidence surfaced in the form of a document from the Research Institute for Physical Culture and Sports in Leipzig (FKS). The document details Neumann's and several other former coaches' involvement in the "U.M. Konzeption" for swimming. "U.M," short for "unterstčtzende Mittel" or "supporting means," was the euphemistic term employed for the anabolic steroid Oral-Turinabol. Neumann therefore finds himself the target of further investigations for having administered drugs to his athletes under the GDR regime.

The news wreaked havoc for the less-than-quick-to-act German Swimming Federation. Klaus Nottrodt, Sport Director of the German Sport Federation, gave an awkward interview in which he insisted the information was new to him and that it had to now be considered.

ARD reached two of Neumann's swimmers in Granada, both of whom were unimpressed. German champion in the breaststroke, Jens Kruppa, said, "It doesn't matter to me what happened in the past, only what happens now. I have now, as before, complete trust in my coach, and that's all that interests me."

President of the DSV, Rčdiger Tretow, is the unfortunate heir to the issues that still fester in the German sporting past. Reached with the German team at their training camp in Granada, he was also at a loss to explain why the Federation had not followed up on supposed requests for information on its coaches from the Gauck Authorities (Stasi Archives). The seemingly voluntary seven-year-long negligence of his predecessor Klaus Henter earned the DSV an admonishment from the Ministry of Internal Affairs during the Championships, along with instructions to act quickly on the new information.

Meanwhile, in Berlin, State investigators into the GDR doping scandals announced the names of eleven swim coaches, both former and active, who will be indicted in mid-September for the doping of underage athletes. Included in the list are Dieter Lindemann, the former coach of world champion Franziska van Almsick, and Volker Frischke, who was also with the German team in Spain.

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