The joy of the 4:2 and the thus defended promotion place at the end of the first half of the second Bundesliga didn't last long at Hamburger SV and its supporters.
Two hours after the game, the DFB and the club shocked with a statement that has it all: the DFB has initiated proceedings against professional Mario Vuskovic on suspicion of doping.
The 20-year-old central defender tested positive for the substance erythropoietin (Epo) during a training check on September 16th. "We have taken Mario Vuskovic out of training and games for the time being to protect him and the club from harm," the club said. His absence in the game against Sandhausen had previously been explained as "private reasons".
First a suspect
The team left on Sunday morning for a nine-day training, competition and leisure trip to California - without Vuskovic. He has applied for the opening of the B sample and is preparing a statement. As long as the Causa Vuskovic is a suspected case.
However, doping experts are unaware that Epo has been mixed in food in the past or unknowingly ingested with drugs used to treat any medical condition. "There are non-specific substances in dietary supplements. But Epo is a specific substance that can hardly get into the body unknowingly," said a Nada spokeswoman on Sunday.
The standard penalty for doping offenses is four years. If no fault is proven, the penalty can be reduced. For 20-year-old Vuskovic, who is about to join the national team, a long suspension could mean the end of his sporting career.
In addition, the public prosecutor is investigating against Vuskovic. She has to, because the anti-doping law has been in place since December 2015. If the offense is confirmed, the U21 selection player is also threatened with proceedings before a court of law.
The professional boxer Felix Sturm was the first high-profile case in Germany to be sentenced to prison for violating the anti-doping law, among other things. On Friday, the police and the public prosecutor's office searched Vuskovic's locker in the Volksparkstadion. Nothing was found, they said.
State investigations are of great value to doping investigators. "We want to know: Is it a lone perpetrator or is there someone behind it who operates a network. We work closely with the state investigative authorities," said the Nada spokeswoman.
Four wins with Vuskovic
After the doping test on September 16, HSV played eight second division games, including four wins (against Düsseldorf, Hanover, Paderborn and Regensburg) and one draw (Kaiserslautern). Can clubs that have lost points against Hamburg protest against the ranking?
In 2016, the DFB had adapted its rules for game evaluation in the event of a violation of anti-doping regulations to the provisions of the world association FIFA and the European Football Union UEFA. Accordingly, penalties should only be imposed on a club “if the club can be proven to be at fault or more than two players in the team have violated the anti-doping regulations”. Because apparently neither one nor the other is available, protests that would have to be submitted no later than 48 hours after the incident became known are probably not possible.
But if a doping offense is proven, HSV would have to reschedule the second half of the season. Despite his youth, Vuskovic is very important in Hamburg's defensive game. He was always there this season until the positive test result.
The club signed the central defender for three million euros in the summer. The previous season, the talent from Hajduk Split played on loan at HSV. With an estimated market value of five million euros, he is one of the top professionals in the second division. His loss would hurt HSV enormously.