Anti-doping pioneer Werner Franke died on Monday evening at the age of 82 from a brain hemorrhage. Franke's son Ulrich confirmed this to the German Press Agency.
Fearless and sharp-tongued like no other, Werner Franke fought against doping for decades. The Heidelberg cell biologist was an uncompromising investigator of sports fraud in the former GDR and - after the fall of the Wall - in united Germany. Not everything he denounced was believed. Most of what he said was surpassed by reality.
"I'm driven and will always remain so," he once said, explaining the reason for his relentless desire for enlightenment and his tireless aggressiveness. "I am clearly an educator for the public and an enemy of abusers."
With great expertise against dopers
The world-renowned scientist and researcher defied dopers with great expertise for more than half his life. By the end of his life he had lost none of his go-getter mentality. "I still despise German sport," said the native of Paderborn on the occasion of his 80th birthday.
Franke and his wife Brigitte Berendonk uncovered systematic state doping in the GDR. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, he found secret documents with her in the Military Medical Academy in Bad Saarow. The resulting book "Doping Documents - From Research to Fraud" published in 1991 caused a worldwide sensation.
Also as a reaction to the book, in which many of the athletes, trainers and officials involved in GDR doping are named by name, dosage and instructions, Franke conducted around 100 lawsuits. "Everyone was basically won. And you could make things public with it," he stressed tirelessly. But it was also clear to him: "There was also a system in the West."
So Franke denounced the doping support of cyclists by the Freiburg sports medicine and was sued by Jan Ullrich. He had claimed that the former cycling idol had paid illegal services to the Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes. After four years, Franke won the process.
Strong rhetoric and a brilliant mind
He continued to speak up loudly - also with criticism of long-time companions from the Doping-Victim-Help association, of which he was a co-founder. Franke accused them of driving up the number of victims and acting unscientifically. He also found doping controls rather nonsensical - or as he put it: "Pillepalle". Be it the World Anti-Doping Agency or the national agency, they weren't independent enough for him.
The fact that the intake of substances that were banned in the GDR and later, such as anabolic steroids, decreased in the 2000s, Franke also wrote on his own and his resistance against the fraudsters: "The body-damaging substances have decreased."
In this respect, doping is gentler, "so that there are no more bizarre creatures" that Brigitte Berendonk drew his attention to after participating in the 1968 Olympic Games. After noticing the deep voices and unusual hair growth of female athletes, she asked her husband, "And what is science doing about it?"
The dopers hated him, officials had to fear him - but his profound knowledge was valued in the anti-doping scene. "I haven't gotten any quieter. It's no use, you have to speak proletarian directly in order to be heard." That was Franke's credo well into old age. Behind the powerful rhetoric was also a brilliant mind that not many could match. "I'm more transparent, that's not necessarily wiser," Franke once said, summing up his long fight against doping. It has now come to an end.