The German online magazin “sportschau.de” reported two weeks ago that athletes’ representatives of all sports are about to set up their own interest group – independent of the German Olympic Sports Federation (DOSB). The DOSB is the umbrella organization of German sports.
Finally, 45 German top athletes founded the association “Athletes Germany” last weekend in Cologne, Germany. The main objectives are better financial support for the athletes, better living and training conditions, support for the professional career after the sporting career and more autonomy. The German athletes think that the athletes’ committee in the German Olympic Sports Federation is not in the position to represent their interests with the urgently needed power and influence.
The new founded association will have at least three full-time employees. The DOSB has already announced that it is the right of athletes to form a club but that they look skeptically on what the athletes will create outside DOSB’s control. In addition, the DOSB bosses Michael Vesper and Alfons Hörmann fear that possible public funds for the new club would be deducted elsewhere in the top sport. Max Hartung, the current speaker of the DOSB athletes’ committee and one of the initiators of the new club, refuses the objection of the DOSB – if the new association receives funding from the German federal government, it is not a matter of deducting funds from the DOSB pots, but paying additional money, it is about 400.000 Euros.
So far the club has only 45 members, all are represantatives of their sports. The effectiveness of the association should nevertheless not be underestimated. Many athletes feel themselves restricted by their associations, the new sports concept of the DOSB requires rough nomination standards which are only focused on Olympic Games and also the concentration on only a few German performance centers, where the athletes must train to receive financial support, has caused many discussions and disadvantages for the athletes.
The effects of the reform for all competitve sports in Germany are also noticable for the German swimmers, the only scale for future financial support are Olympic successes. The nomination times for the 2017 World LC and European SC Championships were set according to the last Olympic Games in Rio, how fast the swimmers were in the semifinals to make it into the final. German swimmers didn’t win medals at the last two Olympic Games and only had a few participations in finals. So the DSV (German Swimming Federation) set all standards high and only 14 swimmers participated in Budapest at the World Championships, only three of them (Philip Heintz, Franziska Hentke (she won the only medal in Budapest for the swimmers), Lisa Graf) were able to reach the regular nomination standards at the German trials in June (swimmers, born 1995 or earlier, got an extra chance with slower qualification times).
The newly founded association should represent the interests of the athletes more sustainably. “We believe that athletes need their own voice, and that a separate organisation will allow us to independently present athletes’ views”, said Max Hartung.