German Law Would Criminalize Sports Doping

Legislation calls for 3-year prison terms for offenders

Nov 11, 2014
Outside Magazine
katrin krabbe germany doping sport

Katrin Krabbe (right), a German track athlete, tested positive for the stimulant Clenbuterol in 1992.    Wikimedia Commons

German lawmakers are preparing legislation that would make doping in sports a criminal offense, according to the Dusseldorf-based business newspaper Handelsblatt. The law, drafted by German Minister of the Interior Thomas de Maizière and Minister of Justice and Consumer Protection Heiko Maas, is set to be introduced on Wednesday and prescribes prison terms of up to three years for the use of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs).

The proposed law would affect the approximately 7,000 elite athletes who are subject to the regulations of Germany’s National Anti Doping Agency (NADA). It would not apply to amateur athletes. While possession of PEDs is already a crime in Germany, athletes found using prohibited substances—as well as any doctors, coaches, or fellow athletes who help procure them—would now be subject to criminal charges, as would any foreign athletes caught doping while visiting the country to compete. The news comes six months after the German Football Association announced plans to improve its anti-doping efforts by introducing match-day blood tests for players.

Absent from the proposed anti-doping law, according to Handelsblatt, is a “Kronzeuge” clause, which would enable German courts to grant leniency to “key witnesses” willing to testify against large, insular groups of offenders. Critics have called for such a clause to be added, arguing that it would allow for better cooperation between NADA and federal prosecutors, as well as make it easier to uncover the kind of “doping networks” that once abetted cyclist Lance Armstrong.