FINA removes tainted doctor from honors list

Dr. Lothar Kipke was removed from the FINA honors list on Monday for his role in an East German doping program. FINA President Husain Al-Musallam stated the decision was part of the swimming organization’s efforts to set a strong stance on the issue of doping and clean sport.

FINA reform committee meeting (FINA)
FINA reform committee meeting (FINA)

The Fédération internationale de natation (FINA) announced the removal of Dr. Lothar Kipke from the FINA honors list today. The vote by the FINA Bureau was unanimous with the decision taking immediate effect.

Kipke was given an award by FINA in the 1980s for his role as a former member of the FINA Medical Commission. In the decades that followed, it would come to be known that Kipke had helped orchestrate a large, systematic doping scheme to boost East Germany’s performance in the pool during the 1970s and 1980s.

Convicted of 58 counts of causing bodily harm by a German court in 2000, former swimmers alleged the drugs they were unknowingly given by Kipke caused physical changes such as abnormal muscle growth, excessive body hair and a deepened voice according to reporting by the Associated Press.

He had remained on the FINA honors list even after the conviction and was handed a suspended 15-month prison sentence.

FILE PHOTO: ON THIS DAY Ð APRIL 20  April 20, 1998     SWIMMING - Former East German swimmer Christiane Knacke-Sommer tries to cover the lens of a photographer as she arrives at the Berlin-Moabit court as first witness for a doping trial.     Knacke-Sommer was the first woman to swim the 100 metres butterfly in less than a minute in 1977 but later admitted to using steroids against her will after her coach Rolf Glaeser added pills to her daily diet.     She voluntarily returned her 1980 Olympics bronze medal and was a co-plaintiff in the lawsuit against numerous former coaches who were involved in a state-sponsored doping scandal. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: ON THIS DAY Ð APRIL 20 April 20, 1998 SWIMMING - Former East German swimmer Christiane Knacke-Sommer tries to cover the lens of a photographer as she arrives at the Berlin-Moabit court as first witness for a doping trial. Knacke-Sommer was the first woman to swim the 100 metres butterfly in less than a minute in 1977 but later admitted to using steroids against her will after her coach Rolf Glaeser added pills to her daily diet. She voluntarily returned her 1980 Olympics bronze medal and was a co-plaintiff in the lawsuit against numerous former coaches who were involved in a state-sponsored doping scandal. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch/File Photo

One of the promises made by newly elected FINA President Husain Al-Musallam was to bring more transparency to the governing body. Connected to this theme of transparency, was Al-Musallam’s stance on clean sport.

Speaking on the decision to remove Dr. Lothar Kipke from the FINA honors list, FINA President Husain Al-Musallam said, “there is no place for doping in aquatics and certainly no place for individuals who have been found guilty of causing great damage to our sport, and cheating clean athletes of a fair chance.”

“For a doctor to harm athletes in the search for medals is unacceptable and I am proud that FINA has decided to send a clear message.”

According to FINA, the decision to remove Kipke from the FINA honors list came about as a consequence of “extensive consultation with the swimming community.”

Al-Musallam added onto his earlier remarks, stating, “FINA will continue to listen carefully to the swimming community as we address FINA’s actions of the past while delivering reforms for the future.”

“I am fully confident that the measures we are implementing mean that aquatics athletes can be sure of FINA’s determination to protect clean athletes and promote clean sport.”

Al-Musallam and other reform-minded officials within FINA will have the chance to introduce and approve more reforms during the organization’s Extraordinary Congress scheduled to be held in Abu Dhabi on December 18.