Hajo Seppelt

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Hajo Seppelt
Hajo Seppelt 2011 (cropped).jpg
Hajo Seppelt in 2011
Born 1963
Berlin, Germany
Nationality German
Awards List of awards and honors
Website hajoseppelt.de

Hajo Seppelt (born 1963 in Berlin) is a German journalist and author.

Personal life and education[edit]

Seppelt is the son of Alfred Seppelt, who was the head of the Berlin Chess Federation from 1984 to 2004.

In 1981, he obtained his college preparatory degree (Abitur) at the Beethoven High School (Berlin) in Berlin's Lankwitz neighborhood. He studied sports, social studies, journalism and French at the Free University of Berlin for a few semesters but did not complete a degree.


Since 1985, Seppelt has worked as a sports reporter for Germany's premier public broadcaster ARD. He has also worked for the Berlin public broadcaster Sender Freies Berlin and its 2003 successor Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg. After working for many years as a live commentary for swimming events for ARD, he was stripped of this duty in the early summer of 2006. Seppelt said that this was in reaction to a private email, in which he criticized ARD's uncritical reporting on doping, becoming public. Since 2006, he has worked as a freelance journalist for ARD and has made a number of reports and documentary films about doping.

Doping in Germany[edit]

Together with former Canadian swimmer Karin Helmstaedt, Seppelt made the documentary film Staatsgeheimnis Kinderdoping (State Secret Child Doping) about the perpetrators and victims of doping in East German swimming. It was broadcast by ARD. Together with Holger Schück, he published the book Anklage: Kinderdoping. Das Erbe des DDR-Sports (Indictment Doping: The Legacy of East German Sports) in 1999. It also dealt with the topic of state doping in Communist East Germany.

In 2006, Seppelt reported extensively about the doping problem in cycling. Among other things, his research led to the identification of the German physician Markus Choina as a member of the doping network organized by Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes.[1] In November of that year, he was awarded the Leuchtturm für besondere publizistische Leistungen (Lighthouse Prize for Special Journalist Achievement) by the journalists’ association Netzwerk Recherche for his research, reports and exclusive revelations about cyclists Jan Ullrich and Floyd Landis and Eufemiano Fuentes.[2]

In the television report Mission: Sauberer Sport (The Mission to Clean Up Sports), Seppelt and Jo Goll documented the work of German doping controllers. The film highlighted flaws in Germany’s doping-control system and caused heady public discussions, which contributed to structural changes in Germany’s National Anti Doping Agency (NADA). The report won the Silver Chest Award 2007 at the International Television Film Festival in Plovdiv and the international Sports Movie and TV Award 2007 in Milan.[3] The film was also nominated for the German Television Prize and the Prix Europa.

In mid-January the German Skiing Association (DSV) took legal action, and a Hamburg court issued an injunction against Seppelt for refusing to make a cease-and-desist declaration demanded by the DSV about suspicions that German cross-country skiers and biathletes had engaged in blood doping in a Vienna laboratory.[4] A superior court in Hamburg overturned that ruling in Seppelt’s favor, concluding that DSV had no right to demand the cease-and-desist declaration because it was not affected by the journalist’s reporting. The ruling was based constitutional guarantees of journalist freedom in cases of anonymous sources. The judgement also overturned an injunction from October 21, 2008.[5] Seppelt’s suspicion could not be proved after extensive investigations.

In January 2012 Seppelt and colleagues from the Western German public broadcaster WDR had reports featured on ARD and WDR sports programs about the blood of thirty athletes being exposed to ultra-violet radiation by a sports doctor in the Eastern German city of Erfurt. Several of the athletes concerned were named. In the wake of the broadcasts, a discussion arose as to whether such procedures were banned according to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) code. WADA itself considered them to be.[6] Anti-doping investigations of the athletes ended up with discontinuations and acquittals due to extenuating circumstances, and a criminal investigation of the doctor concerned was also discontinued. Nonetheless, many experts declared that blood treatments were banned in principle by the laws governing sports. The doctor tried to get a superior court in Cologne to issue an injunction against WDR,[7] but the broadcaster won out, and the report was allowed to contain references to “forbidden blood treatments.”[8]

Doping in China[edit]

Parallel with the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, ARD broadcast the 45-minute-documentary Olympia im Reich der Mittel: Doping in China (Flying High in the Middle Kingdom: Doping in China), which Seppelt made with Jo Goll. The film reported about doping and doping controls in China, in particularly above proven case of stem-cell manipulation carried out on top athletes.[9] At the International New York Film Festival, it won a world gold medal for long-form reporting. It was also awarded the main prize at 2009 Sportfilm Liberec 2007 - World Facts Challenge festival.[10]

Doping in Kenya[edit]

In the spring and summer of 2012, Seppelt and Kempe reported for the first time about doping among Kenyan track-and-field athletes. The focus was primarily on practices among doctors in the background. One athlete told of widespread doping among Kenyan long-distance runners.[11][12] The reports caused intense reactions in Kenya and met with considerable international resonance. As a result, doping controls were stepped up in the country.

The documentary Doping - Top Secret: The Shadowy World of Athletics shows that it is relatively easy to obtain banned performance-enhancing drugs in Kenya. It traces the story of an impoverished young runner who seems to have died from the side effects of taking EPO.

Kenyan athletics authorities refused to speak with Seppelt about the issue, and his film presents circumstantial evidence of corruption among Kenyan sports functionaries. Former Boston marathon winner Rito Jeptoo asserts that Kenyan athletes are not subjected to blood tests while training. Another Kenyan runner claims that the national federation suppresses positive doping results in return for bribes.

Seppelt also suggests the International Association of Athletics Federations isn't doing enough to address the problem of doping in endurance disciplines. After evaluating data on athletes' blood collected at major athletics competitions over a number of years, two Australian scientists conclude that doping is the only plausible explanation for some of the measurements. The IAAF also refused to speak with Seppelt about his suspicions.

In August 2015, he presented a nearly hour-long report questioning athletics in general and Kenya's long-distance runners in particular.

Shortly before the IAAF World Championships in London, German broadcaster ARD aired a new episode of Doping Top Secret in August 2017, titled "The Big Money Run. Africa's Athletes on Sale." The feature by Hajo Seppelt, Benjamin Best, Ulrike Unfug, and Grit Hartmann particularly examines people surrounding and influencing African Athletes in track and field disciplines. It focuses not only on doping, but also delves into shady practices of managers and into the numerous changes of nationality that occur in this core Olympic sport.

Doping in Russia[edit]

In 2014, with the help of athletes who told their stories in front of the camera, Seppelt reported about widespread doping in Russia. In December of that year, ARD broadcast Seppelt’s film Geheimsache Doping: Wie Russland seine Sieger macht (The Doping Secret: How Russia Makes its Winners). In this 60-minute documentary, whistleblowers testified to systematic doping in athletics and other sports in Russia. The film presents evidence for these allegations in form of footage and audio recordings secretly made by the whistleblowers as well as official documents. The documentary, which was followed a short time later by films in ARD and WDR, attracted substantial global media resonance and was broadcast worldwide in a number of languages. After its broadcast in Germany, several figures in international sports organizations and anti-doping institutions either resigned their posts or were suspended.[13]

In March 2016, in its Sport Inside program, the WDR broadcast the third part of the series on doping in athletics with a focus on Russia: “Geheimsache Doping: Russlands Täuschungsmanöver” (“The Doping Secret: Russia’s Red Herrings”). In it, Hajo Seppelt, together with co-author Florian Riesewieck, showed how Russian coaches and officials avoided conditions of the World Athletics Federation IAAF and the World Anti-Doping Agency WADA. The 30-minute documentary once again received an extensive international echo and was broadcast in several countries.[14]

In November 2016 the documentary "Doping - Top secret: The protection racket" (by Hajo Seppelt, Florian Riesewieck, Olga Sviridenko and Felix Becker) is aired in ARD's weekly programme "Sportschau". It is based on a joint investigation by the French newspaper "Le Monde" and the ARD doping editorial team. The documentary is about criminal activities linked to doping and cover up in international athletics. [15] [16]

In May 2018 the German broadcaster ARD announced that Russia declared a visa void which was issued on request of the broadcaster so Seppelt could report on the 2018 FIFA World Cup, citing Russia that Seppelt is on the list of unwanted persons.[17][18]

Other reports[edit]

Ahead of the 2009 Athletics World Championships in Berlin, ARD broadcast the feature Geheimsache Doping (The Doping Secret) by Hajo Seppelt and Robert Kempe about the people who pull the strings in doping in track-and-field.[19]

Ahead of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, ARD broadcast the 30-minute feature Geheimsache Doping - Eiskalter Betrug (The Doping Secret – Cheating on Ice). In it, Seppelt, Kempe and Jochen Leufgens took a behind-the-scenes look at winter sports.[20]

In the wake of research by Seppelt in September 2010 about the world’s top cyclist Alberto Contador, the Union Cycliste Internationale UCI had to admit that the Spanish Tour de France winner had turned up positive in doping tests. It emerged that the UCI had wanted to keep a positive test by Contador for the substance Clenbuterol at the Tour de France in July 2010 under wraps.[21] In February 2012, Contador was retroactively banned for two years, from August 2010 to August 2012, by the International Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) for Clenbuterol use.[22]

In May 2011, Seppelt and co-filmmaker Kempe had the chance to film footage about sports for a week in Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea. The result was the documentary film Sport in Nordkorea - Einblicke in eine unbekannte Welt (Sports in North Korea – A Look at an Unknown World), which was broadcast by ARD in July 2011.

In 2013, Seppelt and Kempe completed a critical documentary about Thomas Bach, shortly before he was elected president of the International Olympic Committee.



  • With Holger Schück: Anklage: Kinderdoping. (Indictment: Child Doping) Tenea Verlag, ISBN 978-3932274169

Selected television reports and documentary films[edit]

  • With Karin Helmstaedt: Staatsgeheimnis Kinderdoping (State Secret Child Doping), 1997
  • Gedopt: Wie eine Frau zum Mann wurde.2001
  • Doping: Ein gefährliches Spiel. 2002
  • Vom Einheitssport zur Vereinigung. 2005
  • mit Jo Goll: Mission: Sauberer Sport. 2007
  • mit Jo Goll: Olympia im Reich der Mittel: Doping in China. 2008
  • mit Robert Kempe: Geheimsache Doping: Die Drahtzieher der Leichtathletik. 2009
  • mit Robert Kempe und Jochen Leufgens: Geheimsache Doping: Eiskalter Betrug. 2010
  • mit Robert Kempe: Sport in Nordkorea: Einblicke in eine unbekannte Welt. 2011
  • mit Robert Kempe: Kein Wunder: Kenya bangt um den Läufer-Mythos. 2012
  • mit Robert Kempe: Thomas Bach: Der neue Herr der Ringe? 2013
  • Geheimsache Doping - Wie Russland seine Sieger macht (The Doping Secret: How Russia Makes its Winners) 2014; broadcast on ARD, https://www.theguardian.com/sport/video/2015/nov/11/the-secrets-of-doping-how-russia-makes-its-winners-video
  • Geheimsache Doping: Im Schattenreich der Leichtathletik. 2015; broadcast on ARD, 2015-08-01("Doping – Top Secret: The Shadowy World of Athletics") http://www.autentic-distribution.com/en/product/do/detail.html?id=3935


  1. ^ RBB Online, Nach ARD-Informationen Deutscher Komplize des spanischen Dopingnetzwerkes identifiziert
  2. ^ RBB Online, Journalistenpreis für RBB-Sportreporter Hajo Seppelt
  3. ^ inside-digital.de, "Seppelt und Goll erhalten zweiten internationalen TV-Preis". Archived from the original on July 2, 2007. Retrieved 2015-03-22. 
  4. ^ FOCUS Online, Deutsche in Wiener Blutbank (16. Januar 2008)
  5. ^ taz, Das Klima ist rauer (1. Dezember 2008)
  6. ^ Hajo Seppelt: Interview mit NADA-Generaldirektor David Howman – Erneuter Kurswechsel der WADA im Fall Erfurt? Archived 2012-06-07 at the Wayback Machine., in: Sportschau.de, 4. Juni 2012.
  7. ^ sid: Erfurter Arzt erwirkt einstweilige Verfügung, in Focus.de, 1. März 2012.
  8. ^ sid: Erfurter Doping-Affäre: WDR siegt vor OLG, in: Focus.de, 27. November 2012.
  9. ^ DOKfilm, Olympia im Reich der Mittel
  10. ^ NDR, Auszeichnung Sportfilm Liberec 2009
  11. ^ Topläufer aus Kenia gesteht in der ARD Doping, in: ARD.de, 6. August 2012.
  12. ^ Kenianer Kisorio nennt weitere Doping-Details, in: ARD.de, 8. August 2012.
  13. ^ http://hajoseppelt.de/2014/12/the-secrets-of-doping-how-russia-makes-its-winners/
  14. ^ http://hajoseppelt.de/2016/03/doping-secret-russias-red-herrings/
  15. ^ http://www.ardmediathek.de/tv/Sportschau/Doping-Top-Secret-The-Protection-Rack/Das-Erste/Video?bcastId=53524&documentId=39197456
  16. ^ http://www.playthegame.org/news/news-articles/2016/0251_new-claims-further-involve-iaaf-top-in-russian-doping-coverups/
  17. ^ "Das Erste: Russland verweigert Hajo Seppelt die Einreise, ARD-Doping-Experte steht auf der Liste "unerwünschter Personen"" [Das Erste: Russia denies Hajo Seppelt entry, ARD doping expert is on list of "unwanted persons"]. press release/presseportal.de (in German). 2018-05-11. Retrieved 2018-05-11. 
  18. ^ "German sports journalist Hajo Seppelt refused entry to Russia for World Cup". dw.com. Deutsche Welle. 2018-05-11. Retrieved 2018-05-11. 
  19. ^ ARD, "Geheimsache Doping". Archived from the original on February 12, 2010. Retrieved 2016-04-02. 
  20. ^ ARD, "Geheimsache Doping - Eiskalter Betrug". Archived from the original on February 10, 2010. Retrieved 2016-04-02. 
  21. ^ Tagesschau, "Radsport: Tour-de-France-Sieger Contador unter Dopingverdacht". Archived from the original on October 3, 2010. Retrieved 2015-03-22. 
  22. ^ sportschau Archived 2012-02-08 at the Wayback Machine.

External links[edit]