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Katrin Krabbe: From controversy to tragedy and now....redemption?


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  • Katrin Krabbe: From controversy to tragedy and now....redemption?

    A British celebrity took her own life recently, prompting the hashtag #BeKind to appear on social media, encouraging people to think before they post negative comments to others. This made me reflect on a number of things, and, in relation to athletics, how hard my own stance is on intentional dopers. So, my aim this year is to try and understand athletes more as people, and why they may have, (or may not) intentionally cheated. Also to try not to judge before all the evidence is presented, and even when it is, try and understand the human element.

    It then reminded me of a documentary & press article I saw on Katrin Krabbe from the end of 2019, when she had just turned 50. Krabbe has avoided the media for the last few years, because of various tragedies in her own life, the worst in 2015, when her husband of 21 years, and the father of her two children, committed suicide.

    Krabbe faced huge pressure when she rose to the top in 1991. Nike even built a whole new track and training facility for her Neubrandenberg club because of her. The German press largely idolized her, although certain factions did not like her for being an Ossie (from the East). Scandal followed, first when her urine sample was found to be identical to her team mates, and then, the same year, testing positive for Clenbuterol.

    Interestingly to this day Krabbe says she does not know how the samples were the same, and blames her then coach, Thomas Springstein. It was also Springstein who gave her, Breuer & co Clenbuterol, which she admitted then to taking because she trusted him and it wasn’t on the banned list. Now she does not speak to him, and clearly blames him. Whilst Springstein clearly was corrupt (he was prosecuted for doping again in 2006) one can remain cynical as to whether Krabbe knew what was happening or not. But one can still feel some sympathy for her…

    After the DLV banned her for 2 years, the IAAF extended it for ‘unsportsmanlike-like behaviour’ and a long legal battle entailed. Krabbe trained through her extended ban with the intention of competing again, she married Michael Zimmermann in 1994, however she fell pregnant before the ban ended in the fall of 1995. She chose to end her career and become a mother. Her legal case was finally over after an 8 year battle and she was awarded a large sum. But, as she faded into media obscurity and started to lead a normal life, her husband faced his own problems, and in 2008 filed for bankruptcy.

    Flash forward 7 years, and one evening Michael Zimmermann didn’t come home one evening. No note was left, not to Krabbe or their sons. He had taken his own life. It would appear he never recovered fully after his bankruptcy. Krabbe started to withdraw from public appearances.

    In 2017, aged 47, Krabbe started voluntary work at a hospice in Neubrandenberg, the town where she grew up. Her role: 'Sterbe-Begleiterin' or literally, dying companion. "Dying companion? I am a companion for living!” Krabbe said. “When I help those affected to go with a smile on their faces, then I have done everything right," she added. She helps patients with terminal illnesses, whether they have days, weeks or months left to live. She said she often hears people wish, shortly before passing away, that they had had spent more time with their families, which she takes to heart. "My main task, above all, is to help them experience as many pleasant moments as possible,"

    "No matter what happened in my life and how bad the times were: If it had not happened to me - I would not be this person today. Through my life I have had so many beautiful, beautiful moments. (But) there were moments in my life that were also really bad. You can not turn back the wheel, but you can learn from mistakes and experiences"

    Understandably when an athlete cheats they are painted in a controversial, negative light, and it is easy to completely forget the human element. I know I do, I did it only recently with RUS athletes. But I was quite moved when I heard about her voluntary role. We are all human beings, and no one is one dimensional, we are all complex, with good and bad attributes. For me, I hope she finds some redemption in this work.

    Does anyone have any updates on other big names that fell from grace and into obscurity? Marion Jones, Kelli White, Ben Johnson etc.?

  • #2
    Regina Jacobs is still selling overprice SF Bay Area real estate:

    Main US rival Suzy Favor Hamilton also went into real estate but later moved in a different post-T&F direction . . .
    Last edited by bad hammy; 02-21-2020, 12:45 AM.


    • #3
      I believe Favor Hamilton worked under several different men in a variety of positions.


      • #4
        I thought I was a fairly savvy and wise to the world fellow but after reading Bambam and bad hammy I realize I'm truly wet behind the ears!!!

        And Regina Jacobs is still freaking gorgeous!!!


        • #5
          Originally posted by user4 View Post
          And Regina Jacobs is still freaking gorgeous!!!

          De gustibus non est disputandum, I guess.


          • #6
            Wiederganger - Thanks for posting this info about Krabbe, and for sharing your thoughts on this subject. I cannot think of a comparable example, but In any case I appreciate what you posted here.


            • #7
              Originally posted by Master Po View Post
              Wiederganger - Thanks for posting this info about Krabbe, and for sharing your thoughts on this subject. I cannot think of a comparable example, but In any case I appreciate what you posted here.
              ... thank you for reading, and, most importantly, your mature post.

              I was trying to think of similar redemption stories, I'm sure there must be others in athletics. I did think of Darrell Robinson; he who was a great junior talent, never quite managed to do the same at the senior level - although of course he was very highly ranked - and then destroyed his own career because of his accusations against big American stars. That effectively ended his career, and then of course one of his daughters was killed by his ex, another daughter from a different woman was basically kidnapped and taken out of the US; he had a mental breakdown and twice attempted to take his own apparently he lives in relative obscurity, and changes his number when he is ever contact by any former friends. Another, extremely sad story, but unfortunately no obvious redemption or atonement, and no sense that he is happy now. Hopefully he is.