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University Publishes Expert Report on Joseph Keul

Freiburg, Mar 20, 2017

University Publishes Expert Report on Joseph Keul

Photo: Peter Mesenholl

"Joseph Keul: Wissenschaftskultur, Doping und Forschung zur pharmakologischen Leistungssteigerung" ("Joseph Keul: Scientific Culture, Doping, and Research on Pharmacological Performance Enhancement") – that is the title of the expert report the University of Freiburg has now published on the internet at Its authors are the sports scientist Dr. Andreas Singler and the sports pedagogue Prof. Dr. Gerhard Treutlein. This is already the fifth expert report on sports medicine and doping in Freiburg written by former members of the "Freiburg Sports Medicine Evaluation Commission" to be published by the university. "The expert report on Joseph Keul is another important contribution to our goal of thoroughly examining and bringing to light the past of Freiburg sports medicine," says Rector Prof. Dr. Hans-Jochen Schiewer. "We are thus keeping the promise we made to publish the legally reviewed versions of expert reports." Andreas Singler had previously made the report available to media representatives but to not the general public on his website. The university received a version that had been passed on to the media and has now posted it online.

The authors of the report analyze the activities of Joseph Keul, according to them the most influential and important scientifically active sports doctor in the Federal Republic of Germany over the course of three to four decades. In contrast to the medical practitioner Armin Klümper, Keul worked more in the capacity of a sports and medical official. Although only few doping activities can be traced back to him, the authors state that there was hardly a sports doctor in West Germany who was more deeply implicated in doping. This was due to "his scientific work as well as his wide-ranging activities in sports, medical, and research policy, through which he was responsible for doping as well as for an anti-doping campaign in the Federal Republic of Germany that remained ineffective for decades," writes Singler in his summary of the report.

The authors see Keul as having paved the way for the acceptance of the belief among politicians and sports officials that measures involving pharmacological performance enhancement – for instance anabolic steroids – could be implemented without causing harm to the athletes. He supported the concept of doping under medical supervision for adult male athletes, thus laying the supposedly rational foundations for the open or tacit legitimization of manipulations. However, Keul distanced himself from the uncontrolled abuse of performance-enhancing drugs by athletes. No sports doctor or official in West Germany typifies this paradoxical practice of supporting and at the same time fighting doping more clearly than Keul. Leading politicians and sports officials appointed him and his followers to influential positions in order to obtain a sports medicine policy that furthered their goal of achieving international competitiveness. Doctors with differing opinions were forced out of such positions.

What the authors view as no less problematic than Keul's position on doping is the scientific culture at the sports medicine department he was responsible for at the Medical Center – University of Freiburg. Doping appeared there as an "expedient illegal act" that was capable of satisfying external expectations and at the same time securing public esteem and economic success. In addition, the scientists working under Keul used the athletes they doped as test subjects for studies – a practice that made it impossible to conduct proper scientific work. The most important demand the authors make in view of the findings described in the report is for the university to offer systematic aftercare to former top athletes.

Webpage with a list of all expert reports: