By Susan Westemeyer
Former East German cyclist and Olympic gold medal winner Jan Schur has admitted that he was an "inoffizieller Mitarbeiter" (IM, unofficial collaborator) for the German Democratic Republic's Security Service "Staatsicherheit" (Stasi) from 1981 onwards. IMs for the Stasi were expected to spy on their colleagues and inform on them back to the government.
Many prominent athletes of the GDR were IMs, the majority involuntarily. The GDR sought out those athletes who were most successful and who travelled out of the country. They received compensation in various forms for their cooperation. Other well-known sports names of Stasi IMs are said to be track's Heike Drechsler and figure skater Kati Witt.
Schur said that he worked for the Stasi under the codename "Reinhold" in the 1980s. He was approached by two Stasi officers in the summer of 1981, he told the Leipziger Volkszeitung. He said that at the time he felt "proud" to be selected, but that he soon found out that it dealt with "sounding people out. I was supposed to tell on other athletes. It was embarrassing, but I didn't know how to get out of it."
He only met with Stasi officers a dozen times in seven years, he said. "I said some things that I maybe shouldn't have said, and I'm sorry for that. But on the whole I don't have to apologize to anyone." His last meeting with them was in September 1988, and the program ceased to exist in 1989, following Germany's reunification.
Schur, 45, is the son of Täve Schur, also a cyclist and arguably East Germany's most popular athlete. The younger Schur won the 100 km team time trial in the World Championships in 1985 and 1989 and at the Seoul Olympics in 1988. He ended his career in 1994, after suffering severe injuries in a soccer game.