German Trials

Frischke Wins In Labour Court


Karin Helmstaedt

Despite having been penalized with a 5,000 mark fine in the Berlin doping trials, former East German swim coach Volker Frischke has won a victory in a local labour court.

In late February, Frischke won his case against the German Swimming Federation (DSV), which he had accused of unlawful dismissal. The DSV first fired Frischke in October 1997 for breach of contract when charges of grievous bodily harm were brought against him in the historic Dynamo Doping Trial. The 54-year-old coach, who still trains European champion Kerstin Kielgass privately, got off with a fine, but had to appear later on in the trial as a witness. During his testimony, he was forced to admit having administered anabolic steroids to his swimmers.

The DSV thereupon sent him a second notice of termination, but a Berlin labour judge has ruled that the Federation acted incorrectly and did not properly consider or deal with the situation. The Federation may be forced to rehire Frischke, or pay a penalty.

The mood on the pool deck in Berlin has been tense since the decision. Beate Ludewig, a coach of Berlin's TSC Club, which trains at the Olympic Centre in Berlin, said, "It's an extremely difficult problem. On the one hand the court talks of morality, and then they get preoccupied with some tiny detail or other, such that the whole thing gets turned around and finishes in his favour. We certainly never imagined that he would be able to work again. And then comes the question, who will he train? Where will he go? No one in Berlin wants him."

And it's a problem for the DSV, which is now paying the price for its own uninformed haste. With the prospect of being forced to pay Frischke, it is now considering ways it could employ him while keeping him off the deck.