The place of the action is special. The criminal trial for doping investigations “Operation Aderlass” is currently being heard in room 101 of the Munich Regional Court. The NSU trial previously took place in the same room. So one might say somewhat sarcastically: A certain Thuringian continuity is recognizable. Because the main defendant Mark S. practiced in Erfurt and controlled his international doping network from there.
Because the mills of justice rarely grind quickly, the protective walls that were once specially erected from the days of the NSU trial are still there in front of the entrance. Plexiglass panes have now been inserted into the courtroom itself, protecting defense lawyers, public prosecutors and defendants from each other in a corona-compliant manner. The bailiff always wipes the stand and he had to wipe a lot these days. Because a couple of very interesting witnesses had followed their subpoenas.
First of all, on Tuesday of this week, IT forensic scientist Cornelia Menzel presented her analysis of the defendants’ cell phones and computers. Some detective work was necessary, especially when restoring deleted search histories in the computer’s browsers. The accused himself provided access to what is probably the most important electronic evidence. “Our client gave this cell phone out voluntarily on the advice of his lawyers at the time. Without his participation, the Munich public prosecutor would only have about a tenth of the results of its investigation, “said S.’s lawyer, Juri Goldstein, in relation to” nd “his client’s willingness to cooperate.
In fact, there was a lot of information on this phone, which was provided with a Slovenian simcard. The expert found 44 numbers on it, which she assigned to 30 different people. The news contained arrangements to hold blood collection and return meetings. There were also agreements about payments. The amounts ranged from several hundred to 27,000 euros. An SMS even mentioned an annual fee of 40,000 euros. The expert could not determine whether the amount was actually paid.
Former professional cyclist Danilo Hondo, who also appeared as a witness on Tuesday, confirmed that he had given Mark S. a total of around 25,000 euros for his doping support in the 2012 season. Always in cash and in installments of 3,000 to 5,000 euros, as Hondo explained in court. The expert had found three confirming invoices for 5,000 euros each from S. to Hondo, which were dated from 2010 to 2012. The doctor issued them so that Hondo could deduct the expenses from the tax, explained the former top sprinter. Of course, »doping services« were not explicitly on the bill. The detail, however, shows how natural doping was taken for granted, and how attempts were still made at the fiscal level to extract every minimal advantage.
During this period, Hondo stated that “three to four blood samples were taken and the same number of returns” was the medical practitioner’s service. For just six to eight procedures plus freezing and storing the blood bags, 25,000 euros seem like a high price. In the case of Hondos, doping should not even have brought anything. “In retrospect, I looked at my performance again. And it is shocking that I drove so badly as hardly anywhere else, “Hondo told the” nd “after his testimony. He suspects that the sugar solution that was needed to hold the blood caused a reaction in him. “I was blocked, full of glucose,” he said, and concluded: “For me, blood doping is the biggest shit, even if other athletes may respond very differently to it.”
His team captain at the time, Italy’s sprint star Alessandro Petacchi, also came to Mark S. via Hondo’s agency. Forensic scientist Menzel assigned the Italian the cover name “Sky” and an annual payment of 27,000 euros. Petacchi always denies participation. But Hondo said in court that they had even carried out blood doping transfusions together in the hotel room. While “Sky” was written on Petacchi’s blood bag, Hondo’s “James Bond” was written.
The SMS analysis of Mark S.’s cell phone also showed that Hondo, of all people, had made contact with the bustling cycling manager Milan Erzen for the doctor. At that time still the sporting director of the Slovenian team Adria Mobil and a little later founder of the World Tour racing team Bahrain Merida, today Erzen is considered a confidante of the Crown Prince of Bahrain and is said to have advised him not only on his cycling activities but also on his hobby equestrian sport. The testimony of a technician from a Slovenian blood donation center on Wednesday was therefore interesting: For several years he had serviced the medical device for the Erfurt doping activities – and, according to an SMS, he asked S. whether his methods could also be used on horses. It seems reasonable to assume that the real interest in this lies not with that technician, but with ores or someone close to them.
The questioning of the medical technician from Ljubljana brought no further news regarding the business relations between S. and Erzen. The prosecutor for the proceedings, Kai Gräber, left it open to “nd” whether there would be further investigations in this direction. Although he confirmed that there had been legal assistance from various European countries, he gave no indication of whether Slovenia was one of them. Due to delays caused by Corona and the difficulties in getting foreign witnesses to appear in court, it is becoming more and more likely that the trial will drag on until next year.