Doping: What’s it All About?

As was recently reported in the news, the famous Deutsche Telekom racing team “all of a sudden” had several athletes admitting to have doped. This came as a shock to the official world of cycling. Any use of forbidden remedies or methods for boosting an athlete’s body to more or higher performance is considered to be doping. It is not only a question of whether these provide advantages in comparison to other competitors or not, but also if they represent a hazard for the athlete.

Forbidden Remedies and Methods

Professionals distinguish between remedies for doping and means of doping. Remedies for doping are so-called stimulants, narcotics, anabolic, diuretic, as well as peptide and glycoprotein hormones. Stimulants are e.g. amphetamines, ephedrine, caffeine) which boost motor activity, heart beat, blood pressure, and the aggressiveness of the athlete. He become euphoric, doesn’t notice any physical warning signals. Narcotics (e.g. morphine, heroin, methadone) suppress the pain and physical warning signals. Their sedative effect can help during precision sports like marksmanship. Anabolic steroids (similar to male sexual hormone testosterone) effect a higher oxygen supply by increasing the number of red blood cells and enhancing the growth muscles. Dehydrating diuretics (lead to weight loss, especially directly before competition) allowing boxers, judoka, and wrestlers to reach fighting weight. Peptide and glycoprotein hormones are naturally produced proteins which stimulate either cell growth or fat reduction or increase of red blood cells.

Forbidden means were first mentioned in 2003 and contain blood-doping (influx of blood with a high level of red blood cells for improved transport of oxygen), gene doping and utilizing agents that are subject only to limited distribution and may only be administered with a physician’s prescription.

Detection of alcohol and und cannabis can be sanctioned. Local anesthetics, anti-inflammatory drugs (with corticosteroids) or beta-blockers are only permitted within limits, when they are verifiably necessary for medical reasons. The use of such means must be reported to competition board along with the diagnosis, dose of administration, and kind of administration.

Organization of the German Sports

The organization of German sports looks like a pyramid: On the bottom, you will find the individual athlete as members of the local sports clubs. These clubs are organized in state associations (e.g. Bayerischer Fußballverband = Bavarian Soccer Association). Above the state associations are managed by Federal associations, which are topped by the German Sports Federation as the international arm.

Doping Monitoring by NADA and WADA

National Anti Doping Agency, abbreviated NADA, is competent to check for doping cases in Germany since its founding in 2002. With its founding, monitoring was moved from the sport associations of German Sports Federation (= Deutscher Sportbund [DSB]) to the National Olympia Commitee. In contrary to the German Sports Association, the NOC is an independent organisation not subject to any state control.

The individual sport associations (e.g. German Bikers Federation, German Swimming Federation) have a contract with the NADA to monitor the athletes’ training. Sportsmen are by contractual agreement subject to anti-doping tests.

The NADA passed the World Anti-Doping Code of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and has adopted this code in the national NADA Code and beyond that already existing German anti-doping rules and regulations, like the NOK doping control system.

The NADA monitors about 1,500 athletes that participate in national and international competitions. The athletes are not only controlled during competitions but also during their training to detect long-term administration of medicine or methods before they are discontinued.

Judicial Competence of Sport Courts in Cases of Violation

Surprisingly, German law does not have a special code for sports law. The law on sports is dispersed in single regulations in association’s law, penal law, public law on fostering sports. The consequence is the extensive self-regulation by sporting associations and sport unions on the basis of the constitutional Art. 9 I GG. In consequence thereof, sportings clubs have the power to sanction athletes – as their club members – who do not obey the rules of the game or use illegal remedies and methods.

The internal institutions of the clubs and federations are often called “Sports Court” or “Arbitrary Court” without being an administrative body. They have their own procedural code, which usually has the “Federation’s Sports Court” as the appeals court. Though they are private, arbitrary courts, rulings by Federation’s Sports Courts can be reviewed in normal civil courts. However, normal civil courts are only competent to decide if this arbitrary decision is highhanded or if this is a case of gross injustice. Along with this, there is also a tendency to circumvent the state courts by installing “real arbitrary courts”. An example of this is the ”Court of Arbitration for Sports" in Lausanne.

Legal Consequences in Cases of Doping

In accordance with German law, the athlete is not subject to punishment pursuant to penal law. This is different in France, Spain, or Italy. However, the athlete will have to reckon with the following sanctions imposed by the sports courts.

  • Taking stimulants or narcotics for the first time will be sanctioned only with a “warning”. A violation with any other remedies or means is subject to a ban from competitions of at least two years.
  • In the case of a violation during competition, the athlete’s achievements will be annulled in addition to the above mentioned ban. This is commonly considered as “disqualification”.

The attending physicians, coaches or other persons, who provide forbidden doping remedies, prescribe these or administer these to the athletes infringe §6a Arzneimittelgesetz (= Act on Drugs) and are subject to a punishment of up to three years (§95 I Act on Drugs Act on Medicine). whenever the athlete is still minor, an especially severe case exists and will be punished with imprisonment from one to ten years (§95 III Act on Drugs). For the lawyer, the threatened punishment implies that even an attempt will be prosecuted – ex officio. Doping a sportsperson without his knowledge also constitutes battery (§223 StGB).

Current Legislative Planning:

On the basis of the current doping scandals, the long-planned passing of an anti-doping act is to be welcomed. It is to be passed before the summer break in 2007. This law aims especially at more strongly fighting the criminal structures of doping, i.e. possession, trade and distribution. In the end, this legislation will not only enhance the prosecution of the delinquents but also to protect the athlete.

 

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