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dr Red Bull – doping, a corpse and the dark side of sport

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dr  Red Bull – doping, a corpse and the dark side of sport

As of: 03/22/2023 07:53 a.m

The ARD podcast “Dr. Red Bull” tells the story of the controversial sports doctor Bernd Pansold: It leads from state doping in the GDR to the Red Bull company and a corpse on an Austrian meadow.

By Sebastian Krause, Kilian Medele, Julian Ignatowitsch

May 2017. Maria Wintersteller, a sprightly lady, 75 years old, sits in front of the television in the evening. She watches “Farmer Seeks a Wife”. The phone rings. It’s her daughter Sylvia’s turn – she has an argument with her boyfriend and says: “Mom, I can’t take it anymore, it’s destroying me.”

A little later Sylvia is found dead in a meadow. Her boyfriend is standing next to him in his undershirt and underpants. The man is Bernd Pansold, aka “Dr. Red Bull”, a sports medicine doctor. Why didn’t he do anything, didn’t help? He will later say that he was in shock.

Mother of the dead: “Pansold has her on her conscience”

The investigations against him are dropped, and a taxi driver is sentenced for Sylvia’s death. He is said to have run over her while searching in the meadow, but protests his innocence.

The court proceedings at the Salzburg Regional Court have been heavily criticized to this day. The mother of the dead says: “Basically, there is a big mystery behind it. For me personally, the Pansold has my daughter on my conscience. That tells me my mother’s feeling.”

GDR doping doctor rises at Red Bull

The neue Podcast “Dr. Red Bull” reopens the mysterious criminal case and at the same time explores the question of how Bernd Pansold was able to rise to the position of chief physician at the mega-corporation Red Bull.

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In the GDR he had helped to dope children and women. He was convicted for this around 25 years ago – in the first major trial of the state doping system in the GDR.

Career at Red Bull – despite doping

Nevertheless, Pansold makes a career in Austria. He forms ski star Hermann Maier into the “Herminator” and makes friends with world stars and company bosses. How could he have such a career?

In exclusive interviews, ski jumping star Andreas Wellinger, former ski freestyle world champion Lisa Zimmermann and the recently deceased doping hunter Prof. Werner Franke describe their encounters with Pansold. The fitness trainer of ski star Hermann Maier, Heinrich Bergmüller, speaks publicly for the first time about secret pills that he claims to have found in Pansold’s room at the Olympic base in Obertauern.

Elite sport and Red Bull

At Red Bull, top athletes from all over the world, such as Formula 1 world champion Sebastian Vettel and skiing ace Lindsey Vonn, came and went at Pansold. Only a few suspected it.

One person who was suspicious of the Red Bull training center is former ski jumping coach Toni Innauer, who didn’t send his protégés around Gregor Schlierenzauer to Pansold.

Toni Innauer: “It used to be conspicuous in the GDR”

“Well, there was always the thinking of a certain firewall for me, so to speak. (…) The Lord (Pansold, Anm. der Red.) was conspicuous earlier in the GDR and was condemned. And if something had exploded there – also in another sport – then you were caught up and caught,” says Toni Innauer: “And I wanted to prevent that. And that’s why I said, ‘No, we’ll do it ourselves’.”

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In the video: Toni Innauer in an interview with ARD Radio Recherche Sport

Dozens of witnesses, hundreds of clues

The authors of the “Dr. Red Bull” podcast are the BR24 sports reporters Sebastian Krause and Kilian Medele. You do investigative work for them ARD-Radio-Recherche Sport. For the podcast, they researched for over a year and interviewed dozens of witnesses, together with the Austrian journalist Johann Skocek. He initially researched the case for the Austrian newspaper “Der Standard”.

Podcast in the ARD Audiothek

The six-part podcast series was created in cooperation between the ARD radio research team and the BR radio drama, documentation and media art department. The team behind podcasts like “Wild Wild Web” or “Soul Catcher” contributed.

That is the European perspective at BR24.

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What: BR24 Sport
03/22/2023 – 06:00 am

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