Rugby in Germany (symbol photo)
Photo: Jürgen Kessler / dpa
It's about cashing in on sports aid, defamation and a culture of oppression: According to research by SPIEGEL and SWR, almost a dozen athletes accuse those responsible for the German Rugby Association (DRV) of harassing them.
Some players also felt blackmailed.
The focus of criticism is the sports director Manuel Wilhelm.
The presidium of the association responded on Friday with an official statement.
It is deeply regretted that “such allegations have been made without first attempting to contact the internal contact person.” And further: “All allegations made have been taken very seriously.
A thorough investigation has subsequently taken place. "
On the one hand, they do not want to have known the allegations internally, on the other hand, they were taken very seriously.
These statements not only seem contradictory, they also do not correspond to the facts, as documents that are available to SPIEGEL and SWR show.
For example, the former national player Christopher Korn, 23, has officially complained internally about the degrading treatment of him - without success.
In the aftermath, he lost his job as a sports soldier, and shortly thereafter also his cadre status.
The athlete Rafael Pyrasch also initially tried to make himself heard within the sports world.
"But I didn't get very far with that," says the 34-year-old Hanoverian.
"I was pretty much alone." Pyrasch described the step in public as "the very last resort."
According to a chat that is available to SPIEGEL and the SWR, Pyrasch was asked by the DRV sports director Wilhelm to make an incorrect statement.
The written conversation also shows that the athlete had to pass on his sports aid.
Sporthilfe is funding that is intended to alleviate the financial burdens on athletes caused by sport.
SPIEGEL asked sports director Wilhelm to comment on the allegations.
He let it be known through a media lawyer that he would not comply.
"The questions already contain a large number of misrepresentations in relation to our clients." In addition, completely one-sided and non-objective sources were used.
Names disappeared again under comment
What is also noticeable about the association's statement is that the names of two presidium members have now disappeared.
Anna Ronshausen, chairwoman of the German rugby women, and Christopher Molzahn, chairman of the rugby Bundesliga committee, had initially also been among the declaration, which was published on the association's website on Friday.
How did that happen?
In response to a request from SPIEGEL, Christopher Molzahn explains: “In principle, I was in favor of a statement, but I did not agree with this short, in my opinion rushed version.
Because of course the subject is not over for us. "
According to the opinion of the DRV, “it was found that the allegations made were based on incorrect facts and the allegations, after closer examination, proved to be untenable.
For the presidium the case is considered closed. «At the same time the presidium expressed its confidence in the accused.
Molzahn regards the fact that his name was among the declaration as a communicative misunderstanding.
"The draft had been sent to me and my non-reaction was taken as approval." When he asked to remove his name from the declaration, it was immediately complied with.
Anna Ronshausen could not be reached at short notice to comment on SPIEGEL.
Only recently there had been a similar case at the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB).
The name of the athletes' representative, Jonathan Koch, was found in a statement by the DOSB Presidium, which President Alfons Hörmann assured "unlimited trust" and "our full support".
"This statement was signed with my name without my verbal or written consent," said Koch via Twitter.
»I did not know the time of publication or specific content.
I didn't know that my name would be drawn even without my consent, ”emphasized the 35-year-old former world rowing champion.
The head of the German Olympic Sports Confederation was accused in an open letter of having created a "culture of fear" in the DOSB headquarters in Frankfurt. The ethics committee is currently investigating the case.