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E-Mail: daniel.drepper(at)gmail.com

Doping in football

Dopingcase in German Football

There is a new doping case in Germany's professional football. Doping control officers found a cortisone substance in Francois Marque's blood. His club 1. FC Saarbrücken (third division) confirmed the positive test of the French player, says [German public TV ARD](http://www.sportschau.de/fussball/bundesliga3/marque100.html).

von Daniel Drepper

The forbidden substance was found after a game against RB Leipzig on November 30st. 31st. A- and B-sample were positive. German football federation DFB wants to deal with the case in a hearing next Monday.

According to ARD the positive sample was caused by a cortisone-containing ointment. Athletes need therapeutic use exemptions from a national doping agency to use these sort of creams. His club 1. FC Saarbrücken seems to think that the positive test is a form error. Maybe they reference to a missing use exemption.

Physicians use cortisone to treat pain and heal wounds. Athletes can use it for muscle gain and better regeneration – especially in combination with other substances. In the 70s and 80s cortisone was one of the most used doping products.

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CORRECTIV ist das erste gemeinnützige Recherchezentrum im deutschsprachigen Raum. Unser Ziel ist eine aufgeklärte Gesellschaft. Denn nur gut informierte Bürgerinnen und Bürger können auf demokratischem Weg Probleme lösen und Verbesserungen herbeiführen. Diese Recherche wurde mit der Unterstützung unserer Fördermitglieder realisiert. Jetzt spenden!

Defender Marque plays for Saarbrücken since mid-October. On October 25th Marque tore his muscle. The game against RB Leipzig, where he tested positive, was on November 31st. It was Marque’s second game after he came back from his injury.

Here you can find our timeline of all publicly known doping cases in German football: Timeline

Update: Jonathan Sachse will be talking tomorrow morning at 11am (Berlin time) in Sportradio360 [sorry, it will be in German].

We will follow up on this story in the next days.

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Newsroom Updates

More Information For More Democracy

von Daniel Drepper

We at CORRECTIV are experts when it comes to freedom of information and freedom of information rights. For years, our staff has fought to make German authorities and administrations more transparent. Now, we’re taking it one step further: we will not only use these access rights journalistically, but show you as citizens how you can obtain important information yourselves.

The work of representatives and public officials can best be judged if it is transparent. Transparency and accountability also considerably reduce the chances of backdoor deals that profit a few, but hurt us all.

Public officials work for a single goal: to serve us citizens. Every piece of information, every document and every record in a public authority belong to those who pay for them: us citizens. Essentially, everything that happens in government offices must be public information. Certain pieces of information can only be kept secret if substantial reasons against full transparency exist.

Everything must be transparent

If information is held back, government agencies and administrations are required to justify their decision in a clear and plausible way. Non-disclosure is only justified if this explanation is conclusive and understandable for everyone. The same also applies to organizations that are financed through tax money. These include privatized utility companies, garbage collection services and scientific institutions whose research is financed through taxes. Abuse of power and government wastefulness can only be revealed – and hopefully be avoided altogether – if information is made public.

Unterstützen Sie unabhängigen Journalismus!

CORRECTIV ist das erste gemeinnützige Recherchezentrum im deutschsprachigen Raum. Unser Ziel ist eine aufgeklärte Gesellschaft. Denn nur gut informierte Bürgerinnen und Bürger können auf demokratischem Weg Probleme lösen und Verbesserungen herbeiführen. Diese Recherche wurde mit der Unterstützung unserer Fördermitglieder realisiert. Jetzt spenden!

Since 2005, Germany has a Freedom of Information Law that guarantees transparency. It is accompanied by a range of other regulations that help citizens gain access to information. However, some authorities still consider information, documents and data their property. We want to change this.

Access rights such as the Freedom of Information Law are not just sources for journalistic research, but a fundamental means to strengthen democracy. If these rights are restricted, it’s a reflection of our principles as a society. If they’re expanded, everyone profits. We have therefore made it our purpose to strengthen and spread information rights in cooperation with other organizations. We want to pave a path for others. The more people claim the information they have a right to access, the sooner transparency will become an everyday thing.

More information for all citizens

In the USA, hundreds of thousands of requests are filed each year based on the Freedom of Information Act. The act, almost 50 years old, isn’t perfect yet, but is surely better used. It is part of a lot of journalist’s daily routine and normal citizens are better informed about their rights. Here in Germany, however, only a couple of thousand requests are filed each year. Mostly by lawyers, for companies.

We want more freedom of information for all citizens. As members of CORRECTIV, it is our mission to help you establish and enforce your rights. If you are looking for information from your local public offices, ask us for help. We’re glad to assist you in any way possible. Together, we can work towards a more transparent world.

Become a member of CORRECTIV here.

Football Doping

CORRECTIV takes in fussballdoping.de

von Daniel Drepper

CORRECTIV is growing: As of now, fussballdoping.de is an official part of our project. The website investigates long-term developments in the abuse of doping substances and pain medication in soccer.

Daniel Drepper founded the investigative research and reporting platform fussballdoping.de in the spring of 2012. One year later, it was nominated for the Grimme Online Award. As of last year, Drepper is supported by Jonathan Sachse. Since July, both have also been working as reporters for CORRECTIV. Now, fussballdoping.de is officially part of the project as well. The Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung released our blog. We are now able run it officially with CORRECTIV.

Unterstützen Sie unabhängigen Journalismus!

CORRECTIV ist das erste gemeinnützige Recherchezentrum im deutschsprachigen Raum. Unser Ziel ist eine aufgeklärte Gesellschaft. Denn nur gut informierte Bürgerinnen und Bürger können auf demokratischem Weg Probleme lösen und Verbesserungen herbeiführen. Diese Recherche wurde mit der Unterstützung unserer Fördermitglieder realisiert. Jetzt spenden!

With the help of CORRECTIV, the reporters will receive more time for their own investigations. Fussballdoping.de is in it for the long run, its research could still take years. For this reason, the platform is a perfect fit for the non-profit structure of CORRECTIV, which isn’t looking to make profits, but wants to uncover fundamental structural problems to change society for the better.

In the past, the platform fussballdoping.de has worked with established media outlets such as Deutschlandfunk, Spiegel-Online or Zeit-Online. The page lives through the participation of its users. Thanks to an encrypted file upload per email and social media, more and more people are getting involved in the project. Fussballdoping.de is also available in English and can be found on Twitter and Facebook.

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Doping in football

fussballdoping.de is now part of CORRECTIV

Our project fussballdoping.de is now a part of CORRECT!V, Germany’s first non-profit investigative reporting center.

von Daniel Drepper

Thanks to the support of CORRECTIV, the project will receive fresh wind and the time to pursue its own research. Fussballdoping.de is in it for the long run, our investigations could still take years. For this reason, the platform is a perfect fit for the non-profit structure of CORRECTIV – a project that isn’t looking to generate clicks and profits, but wants to uncover fundamental structural backgrounds and problems to change society for the better.

In the spring of 2012, only a few weeks before the EM in Poland and Ukraine, I founded this site as a blog-project for the investigative unit of the former WAZ media group to systematically research the abuse of doping substances and pain medication in soccer. I had the feeling that the traditional media wasn’t really reporting on the subject. A year later, the website was nominated for the Grimme Online Award. Since last summer, my friend and colleague Jonathan Sachse supports me.

Unterstützen Sie unabhängigen Journalismus!

CORRECTIV ist das erste gemeinnützige Recherchezentrum im deutschsprachigen Raum. Unser Ziel ist eine aufgeklärte Gesellschaft. Denn nur gut informierte Bürgerinnen und Bürger können auf demokratischem Weg Probleme lösen und Verbesserungen herbeiführen. Diese Recherche wurde mit der Unterstützung unserer Fördermitglieder realisiert. Jetzt spenden!

Thanks to all readers, supporters and friends
During the past months and years, we’ve had so much fun doing what we’re doing. We continue to be amazed by the many responses and support from strangers we consistently receive. You have proven to us that the project is important, that it can and should continue with the help of our readers, users, and co-researchers. CORRECTIV is the perfect fit for this. Jonathan and I have been working here as full-time reporters since July. Now, fussballdoping.de is an official part as well. The Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung released our blog. We are now able run it officially with CORRECTIV.

CORRECTIV is Germany’s first non-profit investigative reporting center. The project is supported through large and small donations as well as membership fees. CORRECTIV doesn’t make profits. Instead, it invests every cent directly into investigative journalism. Members receive insight into our research, invitations to events or eBooks (here’s a list of all the advantages https://www.correctiv.org/warum-werde-ich-mitglied/). In addition, all donations for the project are tax deductible.

Support? Become a member of CORRECTIV
We from fussballdoping.de welcome each new member of CORRECTIV. The more of us, the stronger we become. Over the past couple of years, we’ve run fussballdoping.de on our own time and money. Now, those who want to support us can finally do so – by becoming a member of CORRECTIV.

Newsroom Updates

Columbia J-School: Infosession at CORRECTIV

von Daniel Drepper

Next week, CORRECTIV is going to have a visitor from New York: Christine Souders. She is Associate Dean of Admission and Financial Aid at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Join us and Christine if you’re interested in studying in New York City. Christine will speak about Columbia’s program, about opportunities and the application process.

The journalism program at Columbia is often seen as the best in the world – and the one with the most prestige. The school has been criticized for years for not adjusting to the digital age quickly enough. This changed over the last few years. Now there are not only the traditional M.A. and M.S. degrees, but also programs in investigative or data journalism as well as a dual-degree in Computer Science.

Unterstützen Sie unabhängigen Journalismus!

CORRECTIV ist das erste gemeinnützige Recherchezentrum im deutschsprachigen Raum. Unser Ziel ist eine aufgeklärte Gesellschaft. Denn nur gut informierte Bürgerinnen und Bürger können auf demokratischem Weg Probleme lösen und Verbesserungen herbeiführen. Diese Recherche wurde mit der Unterstützung unserer Fördermitglieder realisiert. Jetzt spenden!

There is information available on journalism.columbia.edu – but if you want to know more, you should join us on Thursday in CORRECTIV‘s office at Singerstraße 109 in 10179 Berlin-Mitte. Christine will be here to answer your questions from 5 to 7pm. There will also be some Columbia alumni to answer more personal questions about life at the J-School.

If you want to take part in this event, please register until Monday.

[Update, September 23rd at 9.55] The official deadline has passed yesterday and we’re happy about all the people that registered – but we’re still having some space for Thursday. So if you want to join but didn’t have the chance to register, please let me (daniel.drepper (at) correctiv.org) and Diane Nguyen from Columbia (dxn2101 (at) columbia.edu) know by e-mail.

Superbugs

Deadly Superbugs

Each year, thousands of Germans die from superbug-infections. The reasons: too many antibiotics, poor hygiene, political reluctance. And the numbers are growing. Scientists caution that a tsunami is coming our way, a disaster “greater than climate change”. Regardless, those involved do nothing but shift blame – almost no one is willing to fight the superbugs with full force. We show that there are already many more incidents than officially reported. And we are launching a long-term international investigation. For this, we need your help.

read more 15 minutes

von Daniel Drepper

Andreas H. is 49 when he is admitted to the Helios-Clinic in Duisburg. The doctors suspect cancer and remove a part of his pancreas, puncturing his abdominal wall in the process. Six weeks later, Andreas has undergone twelve operations. The wounds won’t close anymore, his body is riddled with holes like a sieve. Andreas H. dies with the multi-resistant pathogens MRSA, VRE, and ESBL in his blood. Antibiotics – normally the magic weapon against pretty much anything – didn’t stand a chance against these superbugs.

In October 2012, 71-year-old Christel B. is lying in the intensive care unit of the hospital Philippusstift Essen-Borbeck. Her diagnosis: grave inflammation of the pancreas, caused by a moving gallstone. After three surgical procedures within three days, she has caught MRSA. Two weeks later, Christel B. is dead.

Rainer F. has a serious smoker’s lung, he can hardly breathe. The doctors at the hospital perform a tracheotomy. „Without complications“, states the record. But Rainer F. contracts MRSA, shortly after that with the intestinal pathogen VRE. A few days later, he suffers a septic shock, then his heart gives in. At 57.

And then there’s Matthias Sammer. At the height of his career in 1997, the professional soccer player has surgery on his left knee, once again. This time it only involves a small crease which is corrected. Everything went well, promises the professor at the Martin-Luther-Hospital in Berlin. But a few hours later, Sammer’s knee begins to hurt and swell. Back at home, a fever erupts. The doctors don’t have an explanation: it just can’t be. A second examination of Sammer’s knee leaves them speechless: they’ve never seen something like this before. And once again they claim to have no idea where it came from.

Sammer spends three weeks in a hospital in Dortmund. His life is at stake. „The doctors had serious talks with my wife. She only told me about them much later. All alternatives where equally horrible. That I could become well again was the least likely.“ The germs raged through the soccer player’s body and no antibiotic could help. Then came one last hope, one last antibiotic. And it worked. It saved Sammer’s life.

That was 1997 and it was the end of Matthias Sammer the soccer player, at 30 years of age. To date, he can’t jog, says Sammer; even a job as a coach would be hard, two hours of training daily, too problematic. Today, Sammer is the athletic director of the FC Bayern Munich.

Why is Matthias Sammer speaking out about his terrible infection? „It was that final antibiotic which saved me. I don’t want to produce headlines, that’s the last thing I want. But I’m talking to you because I want people to know about my experience. Maybe it can help others.“

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Every year 7500 to 15 000 people die from infections, says the German Ministry of Health. That’s higher than all drug and alcohol-related deaths combined – terrible news in itself. But the official numbers should be much higher.

The ZEIT, ZEITonline, the FUNKE Media Group and CORRECTIV have collected and evaluated the billing data of all German hospitals. The data shows that doctors have invoiced one of the most common superbugs MRSA, ESBL or VRE over 30 000 times in deceased patients in the past year. Whether all of these people actually died as a direct result of their infections can’t be conclusively determined. But experts are certain that the number of infections is much higher than the Ministry of Health admits.

“We have at least one million infections and more than 30 000 to 40 000 deaths, probably many more“, says Professor Walter Popp, Vice President of the German Society for Hospital Hygiene. During the past year, Popp and his colleagues publicly questioned the official numbers. Pope writes that the Ministry of Health numbers are much too low and are „based primarily on studies that where conducted almost 40 years ago.“

A majority of the superbugs aren’t just ignored in the invoicing process, they’re not even noticed. Hospitals aren’t required to report every case of MRSA. According to the Infection Protection Act, only MRSA infections that are detected in blood or spinal fluid samples by labs have to be reported to the RKI. In addition, only certain risk groups are tested for these superbugs upon entering a hospital, leaving many infections undetected.

  • Multi-resistant pathogens are bacteria that are difficult or impossible to treat with antibiotics. The more antibiotics are used, both in quantity and strength, the more these resistances develop. Doctors differentiate between carriers and infected people. Carriers have been colonized by germs on their skin or their mucosa. An infection occurs when germs enter the bloodstream. The result: inflammations and blood poisoning. Particular groups are especially vulnerable: people who often undergo hospital treatment, who require intensive care, who often use antibiotics, who have catheters, chronic wounds or burn injuries.
  • The most well-known multi-resistant pathogen is MRSA – a methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus. At this point, around every fifth German carries the germ on their skin. Symptoms are wound infections and respiratory or blood inflammations. Scientists differentiate between livestock germs (la-MRSA), hospital germs (ha-MRSA) and germs in the general public (ca-MRSA). Around ten epidemic strains have been found throughout Germany.
  • VRE are vancomycin-resistant enterococci. These germs are naturally found in people’s intestinal flora. When too many antibiotics are used, only resistant enterococci will survive. This can lead to wound and urinary tract infections, to abscesses or heavy infections. Patients with weak immune systems are especially vulnerable.
  • ESBL refers to extended-spectrum beta-lactamase. These are enzyme that make antibiotics ineffective by splitting them. ESBL building bacteria are resistant against a lot of antibiotics.
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There are few reliable numbers out there. Each statistic tells a different story. And in light of the increasing number of infected people, the people in charge remain stumped. „I wouldn’t know how we could possibly record all germs. There are so many people out there who are carriers“, says Susanne Glasmacher, spokesperson for the Robert Koch Institute.

A first step would be to at least record all infections centrally. But this only happens in the case of MRSA, „since we have an obligation to report“, says Glasmacher. In contrast, the even more dangerous intestinal pathogens VRE and the enzyme-building bacteria ESBL don’t have to be reported. Most of the time, they are only treatable with special last-resort antibiotics. Especially very young, old, and weak patients die due to these superbugs. And they are rapidly spreading through Germany year by year.

German hospitals have invoiced VRE over 33 000 times in the year 2013. This includes patient infestations as well as actual infections. The group of ESBL-bacteria were even invoiced over 120 000 times, 50 percent more often than four years ago. The most widespread germ in Germany is still the methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which is registered in German hospitals over 140 000 times each year.

However, experts such as Bernd Beyrle from the Techniker Krankenkasse (TK), a statutory health insurance provider, are certain that these numbers are much too low. Beyrle is in charge of the inpatient division at the TK. „Not every infection is relevant for invoicing. Therefore, we can assume that only a third of all infections and infestations can be identified in this data.“

Without an amendment to the Infection Protection Act by the Ministry of Health, the poor data basis likely won’t change. But a legal reform doesn’t seem to be on the political agenda. The ministry writes that „several specialized instruments for the identification of multi-resistant pathogens“ exist and that the inspection of these is a „permanent task“. In other words: everything is great, no need for action for the time being.

These are unparalleled chaotic circumstances for such a controversial subject matter.

When analyzing the invoicing data of health insurance providers county by county, it quickly becomes clear that the common MRSA superbug is especially prevalent in the northwest of Germany, especially in Lower Saxony where huge fattening stables of the animal industry are located. The intestinal germ VRE and the bacteria group ESBL are spread more evenly, with hotspots in middle and eastern Germany. This roughly corresponds to the observations of the experts who have spent years researching the matter.

The invoicing data of the health insurance companies doesn’t provide any clues for the reasons behind this dispersion. But it does show the magnitude and extent of the problem.

Multi-resistant pathogens in hospitals

MRSA questionnaire

What the data doesn’t show: the suffering that victims and their relatives must face. For that reason we want to hear from you. Do have experience with hygiene problems at hospitals or in other health facilities, with infections and multi-resistant germs? Fill out our questionnaire – the more people participate, thing more we make ourselves heard, the more will be done about these problems.

The questionnaire helps us collect your experiences. When we publish the results we will cooperate with various media outlets, including local media. We hope people will share the questionnaire.

If you want to talk to other people affected by this issue, you can join our Facebook group. We use it as a forum to discuss, share information and advice and let people know with whom can get in touch. You can sign up here.

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The Deceased

Andreas H. is operated on for the first time on November 30th, 2011. His doctors suspect cancer, the head surgeon removes the left part of his pancreas. During the difficult operation, his abdominal wall is punctured. A week later, Andreas suffers a perforation of the stomach. The next procedure follows, 48-hours later another. Tracheostomy, artificial respiration. Peritonitis.

It’s Christmas and Andreas is back on the operating table every two days. Parts of his stomach are removed, including the spleen. A problem: the doctors can’t close his wounds. After the procedures, body fluids enter his abdomen.

One time, over 0.3 liters of milky fluid comes out at once. And the leaks just continue to grow. Time and time again, the doctors attempt to stitch him back up.

“Due to the initial operation, this surgical step is proving difficult“, states the record of the fourth operation. At this time, the patient still has seven more operations to go. Open the stomach, suck out the fluids, rinse, close the stomach. After a procedure spanning three hours, a chief resident notes under P.S.: „Due to the many previous operations, this procedure was conducted under extremely complicated conditions“. When the lesion will no longer close, the doctors turn to glue.

After a dozen procedures within six weeks, Andreas H.’s stomach is porous like a sieve. „Every sip that he took ran directly back out of him and into bed“, remembers his mother. But her son wants to live. His weak body wants to fight. Slowly, very slowly, things are looking up. The patient is transferred from intensive care to the general ward.

“In four weeks I can leave this place“, says Andreas H. on March 17th, 2012. It’s his 50th birthday. What his friends and family have to endure in the next three months, they will never forget.

Once, they are greeted by the smell of excrements when entering the room. Andreas H. is lying in his own tarry stool, blood running from his mouth. He is unable to make himself heard.

His mother and brother are „completely shocked“. They run to the nursing staff to ask for help. Sure, later, right now she has to distribute dinner in the station, says one nurse. After distribution, the nursing staff begins to collect the dishes. Only then do they attend to Andreas H. and clean him up.

It soon becomes clear: Andreas H. has been infected with vancomycin resistant enterococcus (VRE). The multi-resistant intestinal bacteria, which can only be combatted with two types of antibiotics, are detected in his blood.

Family members begin to intervene. It’s the mother, a former nurse with over 26 years of experience, who saves Andreas from suffocating during an episode of respiratory distress. A spell of pneumonia and an impending ulcerous lesion are only looked into at the urge of the family. The protective clothing required for those in contact with open wounds is seldom worn by the staff, disregarding hospital policy. The brother complains, asks for „the care and monitoring required for recovery“, and demands „continuous monitoring through a senior physician“.

The mother slowly begins to lose hope. „Eventually, in the face of his ongoing agony, I said my goodbyes to Andreas“, she explains.

On the morning of June 21st, 2012, when the news of his death reached her, „I was simply relieved that God had put an end to this“.

At the time of his death, Andreas is carrying the multi-resistant superbugs MRSA, VRE, and ESBL in his blood. This is the case for more and more people. And the doctors and hospitals are partly to blame.

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The Doctors

There are two things that make it possible for these superbugs to spread in the first place, to settle down in our midst, to kill more and more people. Number one: too many antibiotics. Number two: poor hygiene. Let’s start with the medication. The mechanism is simple. Inherently, every living being also carries some resistant pathogens during an infection. They develop accidentally through natural mutation. When antibiotics are prescribed, these resistant germs are suddenly at an advantage compared to their non-mutated relatives. The more often antibiotics are prescribed, the more carelessly they’re swallowed, the higher the chance that these resistant germs will multiply and spread – making the antibiotics ineffective.

That’s why it’s so important that antibiotics are only handed out extremely responsibly. Doctors should be required to create an antibiogram before prescribing anything in order to test what a patient reacts to. It should be better monitored and recorded which patient receives which antibiotic for which problem. There should be an antibiotic passport, similar to vaccination records, but for antibiotics. And it should be centrally recorded how many antibiotics are prescribed and for what. To improve usage, to curb it. All these measures currently do not exist.

Even Georg Baum, managing director of the German Hospital Federation, demands restrictive guidelines for antibiotic therapies, already common in neighboring Holland, as well as a prescription register.

All of this should prevent these superbugs from developing. To keep them from spreading, doctors, nurses, and medical aides have to strictly abide by hygiene guidelines. They have to properly disinfect their hands, for example. This doesn’t happen nearly enough. Roughly two-thirds of all patients contract infections in hospitals. Studies show that doctors and nurses disinfect their hands only half as often as necessary. This is a huge problem because hospital germs spread mostly thanks to the staff itself.

In a hospital in northern France, scientists from Lyon equipped around 450 patients and 350 nurses with sensors which recorded every contact with another person. In the course of nine months, the scientists where able to compile a contact profile of the entire hospital. At the same time, they took weekly samples from the nasal mucous membrane and let a lab test them for bacteria.

“There’s no such thing as an isolated room in a hospital. All bacteria can spread to all rooms and stations“, says the leading scientist Eric Fleury. After only a few days or weeks in the hospital, many patients had bacteria in their blood or mucous membranes that patients from other stations had dragged in. Thirty percent of patients were contaminated with multi-resistant pathogens by the end of their stay. „Almost every patient comes into contact with germs from other patients through nurses, medical aides, and doctors.“ The bacteria are spread through the entire building by contaminated lab coats, dirty hands, and serving trays. Nurses meet in the cafeteria and exchange the bacteria on their skin through shared water bottles and hello kisses. During the night, nurses and doctors often have to tend to several floors at once. „Almost everyone has contact with everyone“, says Fleury. A nurse has contact with around 100 people a day.

Of all things, the hospital staff thus becomes a safety hazard for its own patients. Some epidemiologists such as the Parisian researcher Didier Guillemot even go as far as declaring doctors and nurses „superspreaders“ – as „the largest possible circulator“ of the deadly superbugs. They can only protect their patients by better sterilizing their hands and instruments, such as blood pressure gauges or bandage trays. Guillemot also advocates only letting essential personnel have access to a patient – not entire teams, just the attending physician and as few nurses as possible should make rounds. Single rooms can also protect against high bacteria traffic.

In order to improve disinfection practices, some hospitals in Holland have video cameras above their dispenser. Just one example that coerces doctors into actually using them. In Germany, hospitals only voluntarily take part in studies on the rate of disinfection. An external control mechanism, for example through unannounced random sampling, does not exist.

It’s important for doctors to sterilize their hands before coming into immediate contact with a patient. Not in the hallway, not after a procedure, but directly next the bed of the patient. Patients can demand this on their own.

  • Don’t panic: Multi-resistant pathogens aren’t an invisible danger, but a daily companion. The problem must be treated visually. It’s not a crime to talk about it.
  • Before you stay: Before going into the hospital for treatment you can inform yourself about hygiene. Try the German Society for Hospital Hygiene, the Clean Hands Campaign or – if you want expert knowledge – the RKI’s KRINKO guidelines.
  • In the hospital: When you go into the hospital, inform yourself about hygiene measures. Ask for flyers and information about proper hand disinfection. Let your visitors know.
  • Make yourself known: Ask for the nurses or medical aides who are in charge of hygiene in your unit. Make yourself known.
  • Self-desinfection: Wash your hands as often as possible. Disinfect your hands. Pay attention to the disinfectant’s minimum contact time. Count slowly to 30. That ensures for the disinfectant’s maximum effect.
  • General desinfection: Make sure there’s disinfectant in your room. That increases that possibility that disinfectants will be used.
  • Check doctors and medical aids: Pay attention to medical aides and doctors. They should always disinfect their hands immediately before touching you. This is especially important before and after interventions under the skin.
  • Cleaning: Make sure that cleaners don’t use utensils that were previously used in isolated rooms.
  • Clean bed: Insist that you are given fresh sheets several times a week and that the surroundings are kept clean. Everything that you can reach from your bed should be cleaned every day.
  • Fresh air: Make sure to air out. That can help against germs. Even the World Health Organization recommends natural ventilation.
  • The proper antibiotics: Only take antibiotics when absolutely necessary. Antibiotics are often unnecessarily prescribed. If you need to take antibiotics, never end the treatment early – always take your medication as directed. Taking antibiotics incorrectly can foster the development of multi-resistant germs.
  • Monitor your own isolation: Do you carry MRE or are you infected? Ask for flyers about dealing with the germ. Observe the correct measures of disinfection and isolation. Let your visitors know about the problem.

Another possible way to contain the superbugs: screening every single patient for multi-resistant pathogens upon entering the hospital, as is done in Holland. Just one of the reasons why our neighbors have hardly any more MRSA patients.

Georg Baum, managing director of the German Hospital Federation, says that the German clinics would like to screen every new patient for pathogens. But in order to do this, the Robert Koch Institute would have to expand the circle of patients it screens. And the health care providers would have to pay. Baum says such measures could cost up to a billion Euros.

“In some cases we still have rooms with three or four beds and one toilet“, says the hospital representative. His clinics don’t even receive half of the six billion Euros which are „generally recognized“ to be necessary. Baum says that an investment program for prophylaxis would be helpful. He criticizes that clinics, doctors and the agriculture industry don’t work together against the problem. Instead, they try to blame the superbug problem on each other.

It’s true that not only hospitals are to blame for the prevalence of deadly bacteria. We must also look to veterinarians and the intensive use of antibiotics in industrial livestock farming. Gerd-Ludwig Meyer sees this more and more often in Nienburg, a town in southern Lower Saxony. Year after year he is losing hope.

The animals

“You see how a person suffers. And you can’t do anything, not anything.“ Gerd-Ludwig Meyer runs a dialyses practice with several other doctors. He tells us about an old lady whose urinary tract infection didn’t improve through treatment, but kept getting worse and worse. Meyer prescribed the first antibiotic – no reaction. He prescribed the second antibiotic, the third, the fourth, the fifth: Gentamicin. Tetracyclin. Ciprofloxacin. Amoxicillin. Over twenty in all. Nothing helped. After terrible days of agony the old lady had to die. Her death is one among many. Four more patients died in Meyer’s practice only in the past months. With all four of them antibiotics showed no effect. „It’s a shitty feeling when you’re helpless as a doctor“, says Meyer. He likes to express himself directly, is a man who makes things clear. First he was a farmer. As the oldest son he took over the family farm. Then that world became too small for him. He finished school and studied medicine.

Meyer’s hair is shaggy, his life is reflected in his face. He explains how he has recently noticed that more and more patients need to be isolated due to infection with bacteria that don’t react to antibiotics. And that farmers are not only pig or turkey breeders, but high-risk patients. „When a farmer comes into a clinic, they basically need to go straight into quarantine.’

By Meyer’s perception, this began around four or five years ago. He was quick to realize the invisible connection between his two jobs: farming and being a doctor. The connections are called Cephalosporine, Fluorchinolone, Colistin or Carbapeneme. These are the names of reserve antibiotics, the last medicine that can be used against multi-resistant bacteria in our bodies. The last medicine that can kill these superbugs. But doctors and farmers use the same substances: on sick humans and on livestock.

Unterstützen Sie unabhängigen Journalismus!

CORRECTIV ist das erste gemeinnützige Recherchezentrum im deutschsprachigen Raum. Unser Ziel ist eine aufgeklärte Gesellschaft. Denn nur gut informierte Bürgerinnen und Bürger können auf demokratischem Weg Probleme lösen und Verbesserungen herbeiführen. Diese Recherche wurde mit der Unterstützung unserer Fördermitglieder realisiert. Jetzt spenden!

What Meyer found in Nienburg is happening more and more frequently throughout Germany. Doctors at the University Hospital Münster have found that in regions marked by livestock farming, almost 80 percent of farmers are affected by superbug colonization. They carry the germs on their skin; the germs can enter the bloodstream through a wound or during surgery.

Doctors note that more and more people are becoming infected with a strain of MRSA used in pig farming called CC398. According to a study that is yet to be published, over 30 percent of patients infected by germs have a pig germ in their body. This is a significant increase from previous studies. The problem: many of these patients have had no direct contact with animals. Accordingly, the germ is already spreading in the population. And people are starting to die from it.

At a conference in October the doctors from Münster described a patient who lived on a pig farm. She died three weeks after a simple injection to the shoulder. The resistant germ CC398 had infected the heart. Another member of a family of pig farmers had a septic shock after a lung transplant and died due to organ failure. Doctors suspect that a relative brought the pig germ into the hospital and infected the patient.

In Denmark at least five people have died in recent years due to germs from pig farms. Authorities confirmed four cases in court, a further case was discovered this fall. The victims: a 51 year old patient with blood poisoning, a 63 year old dialyses patient, an 86 year old diabetes patient and a 74 year old resident of a nursing home who contracted pneumonia.

None of the people who died in Denmark had a direct connection to pigs.

Experts are observing the same situation in Germany. „We have also found the germs in people who were not involved in livestock farming. The resistant superbug must already be spreading among the population“, says Karsten Becker, senior physician at the University Hospital Münster, in conversation with the Swiss newspaper Sonntagsanzeiger.

In Germany more pig farms are infected with the resistant germ than in any other European country. According to the most recent studies, up to 70 percent of farms are contaminated in some regions. Compared to other European countries, Germany is the fifth largest user of antibiotics in meat production. By the kilo, German farmers pump 60 times more antibiotics into animals than the Norwegians. A breeding ground for resistant germs.

This massive dispensing of medication is provoked by a structural deficiency. In veterinary medicine doctors are not only doctors, but also pharmacists. They profit from prescribing antibiotics to animals in large amounts. Farmers call the larger practices highway vets – they drive from farm to farm selling their products instead of examining and healing animals.

While 26 percent of ecologically bred pigs are hosts to MRSA, scientists at the TH Hannover university found that 92 percent of conventionally bred pigs had the germ in their noses. And this development continues. In the past 25 years, the number of farms in Germany has decreased from almost 700 000 to under 300 000. The number of pig fattening stables, which are especially affected by these germs, has even decreased by 80 percent according a recent report from the Ministry of Agriculture.

All this fosters the development of resistant animal germs. And they jump back onto people.

Studies show that germs are even found more and more often in frozen supermarket meat. Some of the scientists who deal with these developments only handle their chicken filets in the kitchen with rubber gloves to prevent infection.

“In some regions around ten percent of patients are bringing animal germs into hospitals“, says Michael Kresken. For Kresken this development is alarming. He must know: the professor has studied resistant germs for over half his life.

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The Future

When Michael Kresken began his life’s work over three decades ago with his former boss, his colleagues laughed at him. Studying the resistance of bacteria against antibiotics? What good could that do? The numbers where insignificant at the time and most people didn’t expect them to increase. Most doctors followed the slogan: the more the better. Antibiotics were the silver bullet. When Michael Kresken now talks about the time when antibiotics were still used for prophylaxis, he speaks as a highly respected expert on multi-resistant pathogens. Based at the Bonn-Rhein-Sieg University in Rheinbach, the professor writes up everything to do with resistances every two years in a report entitled „Germap“. The prevalence of dangerous pathogens has steadily increased in recent years. Kresken says that something must be done.

“The effectiveness of antibiotics wears down when they are used. The more antibiotics we use, the more we select resistant strains and foster their circulation“, says Kresken. „These medicines have significantly increased our life expectancy. They’re a resource that we must protect.“

Experts are especially worried about the rarest resource, the reserve-antibiotics. „General practitioners and internists use too many broad spectrum antibiotics. That’s especially noticeable in comparison to other countries“, says Kresken. Broad spectrum antibiotics remove everything, making it easy for doctors – but they also help resistant pathogens. If the toughest antibiotics are used to treat small infections, there is little left to fight multi-resistant superbugs that don’t react to other types of antibiotics.

Wolfgang Witte, 69, was the director of the national staphylococci reference center at the Robert-Koch-Institute for many years and is a leading expert on MRSA in Germany. He is a microbiologist, a scientist of the old school; a slender and careful man. A visit to his office at the Robert Koch Institute in Wernigerode turns into a microbiological history lesson as he talks about great teachers and scientists. He cites one of them: „Bacteria always have the last word.“

He says that antibiotic-resistant germs are a significant threat that we must face with scientific reason. He sees little value in human doctors and veterinarians blaming each other. Witte wants to maintain an overview of the situation and see where the real dangers are. We have to monitor how the pathogens evolve. How they jump between humans and animals. The dangerous animal germs originally came from humans.

If this continues the pathogens will evolve in the animals and develop new properties: they could spread quicker and increase infections. They would come back to humans even more dangerous. According to Witte, this could lead to a „microbiological apocalypse“ if pathogens emerge that no medicine can treat. „If that happens, God help us.“

If antibiotics are no longer effective we return to the Middle Ages where a tooth or bladder infection can kill a person. The suffering we would face without antibiotics is inconceivable, for instance in the case of a sepsis. First comes the fever, followed by the shivers. The blood vessels expand, the heartbeat increases, the skin can turn yellow or blue, blood ceases to clot, and finally blood runs out of all orifices. Necroses form at the extremities, the organs start to fail.

Such times might be closer than we think. In January 2014 the German Federal Risk Assessment Office reported for the first time that a new form of E. coli bacteria had been found in three pig fattening stables and in one chicken farm that are even resistant to reserve antibiotics of the carbapenem group. Carbapanems were seen as the last hope. The fact that new pathogens are resistant to carbapenems is bad news.

And who is at fault?

Everyone.

The meat industry points to the hospitals, berates the insurance companies, the government and the doctors until the problem shows up again. Hospitals neglect hygiene, insurance companies don’t pay, laws are not harsh enough, doctors are ill informed and factory farmers pump antibiotics into their animals by the ton. Those are the allegations. But little is changing.

Pathogens develop in cozy and dark conditions. It doesn’t look like pathogens will get uncomfortable in Germany anytime soon.

Many of the dangerous germs are not even recorded at a national level. There is no central register for multi-resistant superbugs. While germs spread across international borders, the fight against them is largely organized at a state level in Germany. Hospitals only participate voluntarily in studies that the Federal Ministry of Health cites.

And it’s difficult for anyone who want to shed a light on this situation. Nobody is allowed to know how many infections there are in which hospitals. The hospitals are fighting tooth and nail against stricter inspections. For the germs, the situation remains the same: cozy and dark.

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What can be done?

A view across the border.

Holland: every patient is screened for multi-resistant germs before they are admitted to a hospital, if necessary they are isolated and given special treatment. As such, MRSA is barely an issue in Holland.

Denmark: A law is in planning that will prohibit children’s excursions to pig farms, even though MRSA is much less prevalent in Denmark than in Germany.

USA: In September US President Barack Obama signed an order to undertake a number of measures. This includes an improved national surveillance system and a 20 million dollar prize for the development of a rapid test for dangerous pathogens.

France: Every year all hospitals undergo a deep 14-day investigation conducted by a team of ten people. As a result, lengthy reports are published on the internet that provide grades for individual units ranging from A to F. Bad results can shut down a hospital.

Quality reports for German hospitals are practically worthless. The hospitals fill these out themselves and most reports claim flawless standards.

The hospital invoices that we analyzed for this investigation could be used to improve the quality of the health system. „The goal must be to publicize this data for every hospital“, says Bernd Beyrle, head of in-patient care at the Techniker Krankenhause insurance company.

“Analyzing this data is a first step to gaining an understanding of the magnitude of this situation“, says Beyrle. The Institute for Health Quality which the federal government is currently establishing plans to pick up on this.

According to Beyrle, Germany needs „proper hospital inspections like they have in France. Whoever remains below standard should receive a warning or even be removed from the market.“

People can die in hospitals, they say. That’s the way it is. But that’s what they used to say to women giving birth. Until Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis came up with the idea that doctors should wash their hands before moving to the next patient.

Hygiene is key in the fight against infectious diseases. Along with reducing the use of antibiotics. If everyone would participate in the fight against deadly superbugs, patients like Andreas H., Christel B. and Rainer F. might still be alive today.

CORRECTIV proposes:

Infection surveillance and control should be centrally organized by the federal government at an infection agency. Pathogens don’t respect state borders. This central agency should not only monitor MRSA infections, but also look at VRE, ESBL and other dangerous pathogens.

Following the French example, hospitals should undergo independent inspections. Every unit should be evaluated individually. This could be done using a grade system from 1 to 6 as in schools. The results should be published on the internet. If necessary, hospitals with bad grades should receive warnings or units should be shut down.

The results of these inspections, including the relevant data and documents, should be made available online as quickly as possible and should be transparent to the public. The general public should know if a hospital has serious problems with infections and receives a hygiene grade of 5 or 6.


Steal our Story

Help yourself! CORRECTIV is a non-profit newsroom. We want to uncover wrongdoing to change society for the better. To achieve this goal, we need as many people as possible to read our stories. Therefore we are happy if you make use of our stories by taking, republishing or sharing them. It doesn’t matter if you’re a local blog, an online-platform, a newspaper or a radio station: take it, for free. There is only one condition: We want you to notify us at info@correctiv.org. That’s important for us and our supporters. If you have a question, don’t hesitate to contact us via E-Mail. Thanks!

In Charge: David Schraven

Editorial Staff: Annika Joeres, Benedict Wermter and Daniel Drepper, in cooperation with ZEIT, ZEITonline and FUNKE media group

Database Development: Stefan Wehrmeyer

Questinnaire Development: OpenDataCity

Header Animation: Ivo Mayr

Art Direction: Thorsten Franke / mediaPolis

Realisation: Mr. Jet Lag

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Doping in football

We’re starting a newsletter

Tomorrow we at fussballdoping.de are starting a newsletter. From time to time, we'll keep you updated about our work and our results by email.

von Daniel Drepper

Over the last few months more than 300 people subscribed to our newsletter. Thanks a bunch. Meanwhile we got a bit more resources to work on fussballdoping.de through our work at the non-profit investigative newsroom CORRECTIV. Enough to finally start a newsletter on painkillers and doping in football – in addition to our facebook-page and our twitter-handle.

Through our newsletter we will tell some background stories, we will post unpublished thoughts and links to other media as well as links to new posts on this blog. The newsletter will be sent sporadicly, we won’t be another spambot in your inbox. If anyone wants to subscribe to the mailing list, please do so on the right. The list will also be available as an RSS feed.

Unterstützen Sie unabhängigen Journalismus!

CORRECTIV ist das erste gemeinnützige Recherchezentrum im deutschsprachigen Raum. Unser Ziel ist eine aufgeklärte Gesellschaft. Denn nur gut informierte Bürgerinnen und Bürger können auf demokratischem Weg Probleme lösen und Verbesserungen herbeiführen. Diese Recherche wurde mit der Unterstützung unserer Fördermitglieder realisiert. Jetzt spenden!

By the way: Thanks to the support of CORRECTIV we were able to hire an intern for the months of February. Beginning next week Fabian Scheler will work with us for at least four weeks. In the past Fabian published with ZEIT ONLINE, among others. You can also reach him via twitter. We’re looking forward to his first pieces.

In case you want to support our work, you can do this by supporting CORRECTIV. The non-profit newsroom employs Jonathan and me full time and makes the work at fussballdoping.de possible. You can donate to CORRECTIV or become a member. Both can be deducted from your taxes, since we’re officially a non-profit organisation. As a member of CORRECTIV you also get access to our community with background stories, eBooks and access to our reporters.

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Newsroom Updates

Knight-Mozilla-Fellow at CORRECTIV

The Knight-Mozilla OpenNews Fellowship brings developers, data journalists and newsrooms together. Next year, CORRECT!V is one of six newsrooms to host a fellow for one year. Today, the application phase begins for fellows.

von Daniel Drepper , Stefan Wehrmeyer

This fellowship is one of the best known programs in the world to pair up developers and journalists. The Knight Foundation has sponsored the fellowship since 2011. In the past, the New York Times, the Guardian, the Washington Post and ProPublica have been partners.

Next year the hosting partners are the TV program Frontline, the Los Angeles Times, National Public Radio, the online publisher Vox, the Coral Project and CORRECTIV.

Unterstützen Sie unabhängigen Journalismus!

CORRECTIV ist das erste gemeinnützige Recherchezentrum im deutschsprachigen Raum. Unser Ziel ist eine aufgeklärte Gesellschaft. Denn nur gut informierte Bürgerinnen und Bürger können auf demokratischem Weg Probleme lösen und Verbesserungen herbeiführen. Diese Recherche wurde mit der Unterstützung unserer Fördermitglieder realisiert. Jetzt spenden!

Fellows of the OpenNews program will work within the newsrooms on specific projects. In the past, these have been tools for data-journalism and visualization or impact analysis of investigative stories, among others.

The fellowship promotes global exchange between participating fellows and newsrooms. The fellows will work toward a better future of journalism not only in the newsrooms, but also by attending international conferences.

From today until August 21st, everyone who is interested in journalism and technology can apply for the fellowship. The Knight Foundation pays for accommodation and living expenses for ten months. We are looking forward to the fellowship, to the new contacts – and we are excited to meet our fellow.

© Open Road by Paul De Los Reyes unter der Lizenz CC BY 2.0

Nerds

Become an OpenNews Fellow at CORRECTIV

Our newsroom will host a Knight-Mozilla OpenNews fellow in 2016. Here's why you should apply and come work with us.

von Daniel Drepper , Stefan Wehrmeyer

Six news organisations are part of the 2016 OpenNews fellowship programme. CORRECTIV is the only non-US newsroom in the list and we want you to work with us as a fellow! Here are some information bits about us.

Who we are

CORRECTIV is the first non-profit investigative newsroom in Germany and heavily inspired by the model of ProPublica (although we are still much smaller). We are funded by memberships and major grants from foundations and our focus is on mid- to long-term investigations. Our team currently consists of around 15 reporters and editors, so small enough for a fellow to have real impact. Nonetheless we collaborate with media organisations in Germany and Europe and many of our publications reach an international audience.

Unterstützen Sie unabhängigen Journalismus!

CORRECTIV ist das erste gemeinnützige Recherchezentrum im deutschsprachigen Raum. Unser Ziel ist eine aufgeklärte Gesellschaft. Denn nur gut informierte Bürgerinnen und Bürger können auf demokratischem Weg Probleme lösen und Verbesserungen herbeiführen. Diese Recherche wurde mit der Unterstützung unserer Fördermitglieder realisiert. Jetzt spenden!

What we are working on

A few examples of our work from the past year which illustrate our vision of open journalism:

  • We investigated what happens to monetary fines paid as a result of criminal proceedings. The result: Judges and federal prosecutors distribute these funds with almost no supervision and at their own discretion. Instead of just writing a story, we collected data from the past eight years on court donations totalling more than 350 million Euros. Everyone can now search for suspicious transactions in our database.
  • Multi-resistant bacteria are one of the largest health threats of our time. We investigated how dangerous the situation really is and visualized how often health insurers are charged for the treatment of the most relevant superbugs. Everyone can enter their post code into the database to track how their region is affected in comparison to the rest of Germany and how the number of reported superbugs has developed.
  • We are investigating the free trade agreement TTIP. We have illustrated the most important objectives with catchy graphics and are continuously publishing original documents.
  • Our investigations into subjects such as TTIP and court donations are long-term projects. We are gearing up to start a two-year investigation about multi-resistant superbugs in Europe. Climate change is also a topic we want to thoroughly tackle. We strive to give citizens information that can be continually updated since most stories simply don’t have a finite ending, but instead keep on evolving.
  • We are currently developing a virtual newsroom. Using this new platform, we want to investigate stories and subjects important to our society collectively with citizens and other journalists. In this way, we can go far beyond what we can accomplish individually. With the virtual newsroom, local investigations can be combined to discover and paint a larger picture.

Why you should become a fellow!

The OpenNews fellowship allows you to enrich a newsroom with your perspective and skills while learning about the on-going investigations and new methods in journalism in general. Come help us with our investigations and build cool tools with us! All you need to do is apply until August 21, 2015!

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Doping in football

68 European football stars on steroids?

Almost eight percent of all European football stars could be on steroids. That is the result of an official study founded by UEFA. More than 4000 tests from close to 900 professional players habe been re-tested. The values of close to every twelth player were suspicious. Since the tests were anonymised, none of the 68 players will be charged. Still, the times of "doping is no problem in football" are over. We took a look at the study – and we show you where you can find it yourself.

von Daniel Drepper

The scientists looked at 4195 tests from European competitions. The doping controls were taken from Dezember 2007 through middle of 2013. The scientists looked on average at almost five tests per player. 68 players came back with the suspicion of steroid doping.

More than two thirds from Champions League

The suspicious players are playing for the leading teams in Europe. The study says that 62,9 percent of the controls were taken in Champions League games. And more than eight out of ten tests were taken from players within the biggest ten federations. Until now UEFA always referred to an average of 1,3 percent positive controls – the difference to the detected 7,7 percent is huge. The scientists write that there might be other explanations for some positive results and that the process of the study – twelve laboratories were involved – might have altered some of the results.

The UEFA just announced Here you can read the study for six dollars.

The study only looked at steroids. We have to add all players who might use other performance enhancing substances like blood doping or human growth hormone. Two years ago we published a piece about a study done by the physician of the German national team, Tim Meyer. It showed nine suspicious blood values in German Bundesliga.

It’s good that UEFA commissioned such a study. Now we have a much better window into the real spread of doping in football. And it seems that UEFA is going to do something about it. We will see if that’s enough.

Unterstützen Sie unabhängigen Journalismus!

CORRECTIV ist das erste gemeinnützige Recherchezentrum im deutschsprachigen Raum. Unser Ziel ist eine aufgeklärte Gesellschaft. Denn nur gut informierte Bürgerinnen und Bürger können auf demokratischem Weg Probleme lösen und Verbesserungen herbeiführen. Diese Recherche wurde mit der Unterstützung unserer Fördermitglieder realisiert. Jetzt spenden!

There are (at least) three open questions at the moment:

1) Why did UEFA have such a pr campaign for their new anti-doping-program over the last weeks – but did not mention the (already published) study once?

2) Why did UEFA anonymise the players names?

3) Will UEFA now take another look at recent tests from the Champions League to test for steroids?

We put these questions to the UEFA media team and will update this piece as soon as we get an answer.


– See more at: http://fussballdoping.correctiv.org/en/2015/09/68-european-football-stars-on-steroids/#sthash.T4czEph7.dpuf

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Newsroom Updates

We present to you: Our OpenNews-Fellow

Finally, we can let you know: We are looking forward to work with Sandhya Kambhampati, our OpenNews fellow in the upcoming year. Sandhya will be with us for ten months. Today, our developers Stefan Wehrmeyer and Simon Jockers went to MozFest in London and met Sandhya for the first time. We are looking forward to spend ten great months together with Sandhya. And to a lot of new ideas for the datajournalism community in Germany.

read more 3 minutes

von Daniel Drepper

Partners of the OpenNews-Fellowship are the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, National Public Radio NPR, the investigative documentary program Frontline PBS, Vox Media and CORRECTIV. The OpenNews fellowship is organized and sponsored by Mozilla and the Knight Foundation. The fellows get a monthly salary, accomodation and a travel budget.

Our fellow Sandhya studied at the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University and worked during her studies for several radio and TV stations. Later she worked as a datajournalist for USA Today as well as the regional papers and TV stations of the E.W. Scripps company.

Since 2014 Sandhya worked in Washington DC for the renowned Chronicle of Higher Education. Sandhya is responsible for different datajournalism projects. She will probably come to Germany in February and will work with us in our offices in Essen and Berlin.

Unterstützen Sie unabhängigen Journalismus!

CORRECTIV ist das erste gemeinnützige Recherchezentrum im deutschsprachigen Raum. Unser Ziel ist eine aufgeklärte Gesellschaft. Denn nur gut informierte Bürgerinnen und Bürger können auf demokratischem Weg Probleme lösen und Verbesserungen herbeiführen. Diese Recherche wurde mit der Unterstützung unserer Fördermitglieder realisiert. Jetzt spenden!

As a datajournalist at CORRECTIV Sandhya will support the intersection between developers and journalists. With Sandhya we want to strengthen our international data projects and get new ideas how to approach data- and document-driven journalism. Sandhya on the other hand wants to know more about freedom of information laws in Europe – and aims to learn German.

The fellows will not only work in newsrooms, they will also travel a lot, attend conferences and work on international projects together. We will try to bring as much of this spirit to Germany as possible. We are curious and look very much forward to our year with Sandhya and as a member of the OpenNews community.

Header: private

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Super bugs

Why CORRECTIV tackles superbugs

We have a problem with infections. And we do not have a solution. Worldwide, Superbugs – resistant against antibiotics – are on the rise. The more humans use antibiotics and the more often we feed antibiotics to livestock, the bigger our problem gets. Already, thousands of people are dying in Europe, every year.

read more 2 minutes

von Hristio Boytchev , Daniel Drepper

Reason enough for CORRECTIV to investigate the issue. We want to make the problem accessible and we want to report on it long-term. We want to discuss solutions – and avoid fearmongering.

There are a lot of open questions. What role does the use of antibiotics in livestock play for infections of humans? How can we improve the hygiene in hospitals? How can we control the distribution and use of antibiotics? And who will develop new drugs to battle superbugs? We want this website to be a place for possible answers from different countries.

For this investigaiton we are cooperating with journalists from all over Europe. We want to learn together and from each other. Superbugs do not stop at national borders. European states have different experiences, individual problems and strategies. We should all profit from that.

Unterstützen Sie unabhängigen Journalismus!

CORRECTIV ist das erste gemeinnützige Recherchezentrum im deutschsprachigen Raum. Unser Ziel ist eine aufgeklärte Gesellschaft. Denn nur gut informierte Bürgerinnen und Bürger können auf demokratischem Weg Probleme lösen und Verbesserungen herbeiführen. Diese Recherche wurde mit der Unterstützung unserer Fördermitglieder realisiert. Jetzt spenden!

That is why we want to work together with you, whether you are a user or a journalist yourself. If you have made your own experience with resistant germs, if you want to use our reporting for your own good or want to report about our findings – just send us an e-mail.

During the followig months we will continue to publish at correctiv.org/superbugs. You will find new scientific findings, documents and data. And we will publish stories and background information about the fight against superbugs. We are looking forward to a regular exchange with you.


You can easily reach our reporter Hristio Boytchev at hristio.boytchev@correctiv.org

copy editing: Christine Coester
header photo: Ivo Mayr