East German Agents Involved in Doping Athletes May Face Prosecution
BERLIN (AP) _ Prosecutors are considering bringing charges against dozens of former East German secret police agents, doctors and others responsible for giving banned substances to their country’s Olympic athletes, officials said Tuesday.
The investigation is centered on whether those who administered the performance-enhancing drugs can be charged with causing bodily harm, said Corinna Bischoff, a spokeswoman for the Berlin prosecutor’s office.
More than 50 people are under investigation, and the number could increase, she said. Charges can be filed even if the athletes took the drugs voluntarily, she said, because they were not informed about the risks.
Athletes ``would never have agreed to damage their health,″ she said. ``They may have agreed to take certain drugs, but they more than likely were always told that it wasn’t so bad.″
Several ex-East German athletes have complained about health complaints, she said, although she declined to release names.
``Gathering the evidence is difficult,″ she said, because of the time elapsed and because prosecutors must prove that current health problems are directly related to the drugs.
Files from the old Ministry for State Security, or Stasi, contain evidence of doping dating to the 1972 games in Munich, said Johan Legner, a spokesman for the government commission charged with reviewing the files.
``That was standard practice,″ Legner said.
At the 1976 Montreal Olympics, the athletes were given performance-enhancing drugs at a clandestine medical center set up by the Stasi outside the Olympic Village, newly disclosed files show.
Commission director Peter Busse told Deutschland Radio last weekend that the drugs were manufactured without any markings ``so that no one would know where they came from in case they were found.″
After the games, he said, Stasi agents sank ``10 suitcases with drugs, needles and tubes in the St. Lawrence River.″
The information came from files that were shredded by the Stasi after the Wall fell in 1989, but before German unification in 1990, and were only recently put back together, Busse said.