Seppelt is the son of Alfred Seppelt, who was the head of the Berlin Chess Federation from 1984 to 2004.
In 1981, he obtained his college preparatory degree (Abitur) at the Beethoven-Oberschule in Berlin's Lankwitz neighborhood. He studied sports, social studies, journalism and French at the Free University of Berlin for a few semesters but did not complete a degree.
Since 1985, Seppelt has worked as a sports reporter for Germany's premier public broadcaster ARD. He has also worked for the Berlin public broadcaster Sender Freies Berlin and its 2003 successor Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg. After working for many years as a live commentary for swimming events for ARD, he was stripped of this duty in the early summer of 2006. Seppelt said that this was in reaction to a private email, in which he criticized ARD's uncritical reporting on doping, becoming public. Since 2006, he has worked as a freelance journalist for ARD and has made a number of reports and documentary films about doping.
Together with former Canadian swimmer Karin Helmstaedt, Seppelt made the documentary film Staatsgeheimnis Kinderdoping (State Secret Child Doping) about the perpetrators and victims of doping in East German swimming. It was broadcast by ARD. Together with Holger Schück, he published the book Anklage: Kinderdoping. Das Erbe des DDR-Sports (Indictment Doping: The Legacy of East German Sports) in 1999. It also dealt with the topic of state doping in Communist East Germany.
In 2006, Seppelt reported extensively about the doping problem in cycling. Among other things, his research led to the identification of the German physician Markus Choina as a member of the doping network organized by Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes. In November of that year, he was awarded the Leuchtturm für besondere publizistische Leistungen (Lighthouse Prize for Special Journalist Achievement) by the journalists’ association Netzwerk Recherche for his research, reports and exclusive revelations about cyclists Jan Ullrich and Floyd Landis and Eufemiano Fuentes.
In the television report Mission: Sauberer Sport (The Mission to Clean Up Sports), Seppelt and Jo Goll documented the work of German doping controllers. The film highlighted flaws in Germany’s doping-control system and caused heady public discussions, which contributed to structural changes in Germany’s National Anti Doping Agency (NADA). The report won the Silver Chest Award 2007 at the International Television Film Festival in Plovdiv and the international Sports Movie and TV Award 2007 in Milan. The film was also nominated for the German Television Prize and the Prix Europa.
In mid-January the German Skiing Association (DSV) took legal action, and a Hamburg court issued an injunction against Seppelt for refusing to make a cease-and-desist declaration demanded by the DSV about suspicions that German cross-country skiers and biathletes had engaged in blood doping in a Vienna laboratory. A superior court in Hamburg overturned that ruling in Seppelt’s favor, concluding that DSV had no right to demand the cease-and-desist declaration because it was not affected by the journalist’s reporting. The ruling was based constitutional guarantees of journalist freedom in cases of anonymous sources. The judgement also overturned an injunction from October 21, 2008. Seppelt’s suspicion could not be proved after extensive investigations.
In January 2012 Seppelt and colleagues from the Western German public broadcaster WDR had reports featured on ARD and WDR sports programs about the blood of thirty athletes being exposed to ultra-violet radiation by a sports doctor in the Eastern German city of Erfurt. Several of the athletes concerned were named. In the wake of the broadcasts, a discussion arose as to whether such procedures were banned according to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) code. WADA itself considered them to be. Anti-doping investigations of the athletes ended up with discontinuations and acquittals due to extenuating circumstances, and a criminal investigation of the doctor concerned was also discontinued. Nonetheless, many experts declared that blood treatments were banned in principle by the laws governing sports. The doctor tried to get a superior court in Cologne to issue an injunction against WDR, but the broadcaster won out, and the report was allowed to contain references to “forbidden blood treatments.”
Parallel with the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, ARD broadcast the 45-minute-documentary Olympia im Reich der Mittel: Doping in China (Flying High in the Middle Kingdom: Doping in China), which Seppelt made with Jo Goll. The film reported about doping and doping controls in China, in particularly above proven case of stem-cell manipulation carried out on top athletes. At the International New York Film Festival, it won a world gold medal for long-form reporting. It was also awarded the main prize at 2009 Sportfilm Liberec 2007 - World Facts Challenge festival.
In the spring and summer of 2012, Seppelt and Kempe reported for the first time about doping among Kenyan track-and-field athletes. The focus was primarily on practices among doctors in the background. One athlete told of widespread doping among Kenyan long-distance runners. The reports caused intense reactions in Kenya and met with considerable international resonance. As a result, doping controls were stepped up in the country.
Doping - Top Secret: The Shadowy World of Athletics. The documentary shows that it is relatively easy to obtain banned performance-enhancing drugs in Kenya and traces the story of an impoverished young runner who seems to have died from the side effects of taking EPO.
Kenyan athletics authorities refused to speak with Seppelt about the issue, and his film presents circumstantial evidence of corruption among Kenyan sports functionaries. Former Boston marathon winner Rito Jeptoo asserts that Kenyan athletes are not subjected to blood tests while training. Another Kenyan runner claims that the national federation suppresses positive doping results in return for bribes.
Seppelt also suggests the International Association of Athletics Federations isn't doing enough to address the problem of doping in endurance disciplines. After evaluating data on athletes' blood collected at major athletics competitions over a number of years, two Australian scientists conclude that doping is the only plausible explanation for some of the measurements. The IAAF also refused to speak with Seppelt about his suspicions.
In August 2015, he presented a nearly hour-long report questioning athletics in general and Kenya's long-distance runners in particular.
Shortly before the IAAF World Championships in London, German broadcaster ARD aired a new episode of ‚Doping Top Secret‘ in August 2017. It‘s title: ‚The Big Money Run. Afica‘s Athletes on Sale.‘ The feature by Hajo Seppelt, Benjamin Best, Ulrike Unfug, and Grit Hartmann particularly examines people surrounding and influencing African Athletes in track and field disciplines. It focuses not only on doping, but also delves into shady practices of managers and into the numerous changes of nationality that occur in this core Olympic Sport
In 2014, with the help of athletes, who told their stories in front of the camera, Seppelt reported about widespread doping in Russia. In December of that year, ARD broadcast Seppelt’s film Geheimsache Doping: Wie Russland seine Sieger macht (The Doping Secret: How Russia Makes its Winners). In this 60-minute documentary, whistleblowers testified to systematic doping in athletics and other sports in Russia. The film presents evidence for these allegations in form of footage and audio recordings secretly made by the whistleblowers as well as official documents. The documentary, which was followed a short time later by films in ARD and WDR, attracted substantial global media resonance and was broadcast worldwide in a number of languages. After its broadcast in Germany, several figures in international sports organizations and anti-doping institutions either resigned their posts or were suspended. http://hajoseppelt.de/2014/12/the-secrets-of-doping-how-russia-makes-its-winners/
In March 2016, in its Sport Inside program, the WDR broadcast the third part of the series on doping in athletics with a focus on Russia: “Geheimsache Doping: Russlands Täuschungsmanöver” (“The Doping Secret: Russia’s Red Herrings”). In it, Hajo Seppelt, together with co-author Florian Riesewieck, showed how Russian coaches and officials avoided conditions of the World Athletics Federation IAAF and the World Anti-Doping Agency WADA. The 30-minute documentary once again received an extensive international echo and was broadcast in several countries. http://hajoseppelt.de/2016/03/doping-secret-russias-red-herrings/
In November 2016 the documentary "Doping - Top secret: The protection racket" (by Hajo Seppelt, Florian Riesewieck, Olga Sviridenko and Felix Becker) is aired in ARD's weekly programme "Sportschau". It is based on a joint investigation by the French newspaper "Le Monde" and the ARD doping editorial team. The documentary is about criminal activities linked to doping and cover up in international athletics. http://www.ardmediathek.de/tv/Sportschau/Doping-Top-Secret-The-Protection-Rack/Das-Erste/Video?bcastId=53524&documentId=39197456 http://www.playthegame.org/news/news-articles/2016/0251_new-claims-further-involve-iaaf-top-in-russian-doping-coverups/
Ahead of the 2009 Athletics World Championships in Berlin, ARD broadcast the feature Geheimsache Doping (The Doping Secret) by Hajo Seppelt and Robert Kempe about the people who pull the strings in doping in track-and-field.
Ahead of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, ARD broadcast the 30-minute feature Geheimsache Doping - Eiskalter Betrug (The Doping Secret – Cheating on Ice). In it, Seppelt, Kempe and Jochen Leufgens took a behind-the-scenes look at winter sports.
In the wake of research by Seppelt in September 2010 about the world’s top cyclist Alberto Contador, the Union Cycliste Internationale UCI had to admit that the Spanish Tour de France winner had turned up positive in doping tests. It emerged that the UCI had wanted to keep a positive test by Contador for the substance Clenbuterol at the Tour de France in July 2010 under wraps. In February 2012, Contador was retroactively banned for two years, from August 2010 to August 2012, by the International Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) for Clenbuterol use.
In May 2011, Seppelt and co-filmmaker Kempe had the chance to film footage about sports for a week in Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea. The result was the documentary film Sport in Nordkorea - Einblicke in eine unbekannte Welt (Sports in North Korea – A Look at an Unknown World), which was broadcast by ARD in July 2011.
In 2013, Seppelt and Kempe completed a critical documentary about Thomas Bach, shortly before he was elected president of the International Olympic Committee.2017 Gold World Medal at the New York Film Festivals in the category Current affairs" for "Doping Top secret: Showdown for Russia" (in cooperation with Florian Riesewieck, Felix Becker and Olga Sviridenko)
2016 International Sports Movies TV Award in the category “Sport & Society” for the documentary film “Doping – Top Secret: Russia's Red Herrings” at the international film festival of Federation Internationale Cinema Television Sportifs in Milano.
2016 Nomination for the PRIX EUROPA 2016 for "Doping - Top Secret: Showdown for Russia" in the category TV Current Affairs.
2016 Nomination for the Austrian Film and Television Award “Goldene ROMY” for “Doping – Top Secret: The Shadowy World of Athletics” in the category of Best TV Documentary.
2016 Finalist at the New York Film Festivals in the category “Best Investigative Report” for “Doping – Top Secret: The Shadowy World of Athletics”.
2016: Bud-Greenspan-Award der New York Track and Field Writers for the documentaries “The Doping Secret: How Russia Creates Champions” and “Doping – Top Secret: The Shadowy World of Athletics”.
German Television Prize 2016 in the category - best Sports journalism for "The Doping Secret: How Russia Creates Champions and “Doping - Top Secret: The Shadowy World of Athletics”.
2015 Award at the first worldwide competition for Journalism "Sports Media Pearl Award" (AIPS) in Abu Dhabi in the category "Video documentary" for the “Doping – Top Secret: The Shadowy World of Athletics” and in the category "Best investigative reporting"
2015 Award of the German Journalists Association (DJV), “Langer Atem” -“Deep Breath” (2nd prize) for coverage about Doping in Russia.
Media prize 2015 from the German Amateur Athletic Association for the documentary „The Doping Secret: How Russia Creates Champions
2015: International Sports Movies TV Award in the category "sports values" for the documentary film “DOPING - TOP SECRET: THE SHADOWY WORLD OF ATHLETICS” at the international Film festival Federation Internationale Cinema Television Sportifs in Mailand.
2015: Nomination of "Doping secrets: The Doping Secret: How Russia Makes its Champions for the International TV-Award from Asian-Pacific Broadcasting Union in the category "documentary".
2015 Silver World Medal at New York Festivals in the category Best Investigative Report for the documentary film Geheimsache Doping: Wie Russland seine Sieger macht (The Doping Secret: How Russia Makes its Champions)
German Television Prize 2013 in the category Best Sports Program for the WDR program sport inside (together with Tom Theunissen, Florian Bauer, Matthias Wolf, Marc Schlömer, Ulrich Loke and Reiner Lefeber)
Nomination for the WDR program sport inside in the category Best Sports Program, German Television Prize 2011 (together with Tom Theunissen, Marc Schlömer, Jochen Leufgens, Fred Kowasch, Ulrich Loke and Reiner Lefeber)
Nomination for the WDR program sport inside in the category Best Sports Program, German Television Prize 2009 (together with Tom Theunissen, Marc Schlömer, Klaus Fiedler, Fred Kowasch, Ulrich Loke, Reiner Lefeber and Jochen Leufgens)
Main Prize, International Festival Sportfilm Liberec 2009 - World Facts Challenge for the ARD Olympia im Reich der Mittel: Doping in China (with Jo Goll)
Nomination for the 45th Adolf-Grimme Prize (2009), in the category Special Prize for his “persistent and courageous researching on the topic of doping and excellent achievements in reporting.”
Gold World Medal at the New York Festival TV & Video Award 2009, in the category Best Investigative Report (Long Form) for the documentary Olympia im Reich der Mittel: Doping in China (with Jo Goll)
Nomination German Television Prize 2007 in the category Best Sports Program for Mission Sauberer Sport. Dopingfahnder im Einsatz (with Jo Goll)
2007 German Sports Journalist of the Year 2007
2007 International Sports Movies TV Award for the documentary “Mission Sauberer Sport” (“Mission Clean Sports”) in the category “Documentary” at the international film festival of Federation Internationale Cinema Television Sportifs in Milano (with Jo Goll.
Silver Chest Award 2007 at the International Documentary Film Festival in Plovdiv for Mission: Sauberer Sport. Dopingfahnder im Einsatz (with Jo Goll)
Main Prize at the international festival Sportfilm Liberec 2007 - World Facts Challenge for the ARD exclusive Mission: Sauberer Sport. Dopingfahnder im Einsatz (with Jo Goll)
Leuchtturm Preis of the network Netzwerk Recherche, for special journalistic achievements (2006)
Major Television Prize 1992, 1998, 2001 and 2003, Association of German Sports Journalists for various documentary films
Major Radio Prize 1989 Association of German Sports Journalists for an SFB report about the New York Marathon (Einlauf in Manhattan)
With Holger Schück: Anklage: Kinderdoping. (Indictment: Child Doping) Tenea Verlag, ISBN 978-3932274169
With Karin Helmstaedt: Staatsgeheimnis Kinderdoping (State Secret Child Doping), 1997
Gedopt: Wie eine Frau zum Mann wurde.2001
Doping: Ein gefährliches Spiel. 2002
Vom Einheitssport zur Vereinigung. 2005
mit Jo Goll: Mission: Sauberer Sport. 2007
mit Jo Goll: Olympia im Reich der Mittel: Doping in China. 2008
mit Robert Kempe: Geheimsache Doping: Die Drahtzieher der Leichtathletik. 2009
mit Robert Kempe und Jochen Leufgens: Geheimsache Doping: Eiskalter Betrug. 2010
mit Robert Kempe: Sport in Nordkorea: Einblicke in eine unbekannte Welt. 2011
mit Robert Kempe: Kein Wunder: Kenya bangt um den Läufer-Mythos. 2012
mit Robert Kempe: Thomas Bach: Der neue Herr der Ringe? 2013
Geheimsache Doping - Wie Russland seine Sieger macht (The Doping Secret: How Russia Makes its Winners) 2014; broadcast on ARD, https://www.theguardian.com/sport/video/2015/nov/11/the-secrets-of-doping-how-russia-makes-its-winners-video
Geheimsache Doping: Im Schattenreich der Leichtathletik. 2015; broadcast on ARD, 2015-08-01("Doping – Top Secret: The Shadowy World of Athletics") http://www.autentic-distribution.com/en/product/do/detail.html?id=3935
http://hajoseppelt.de/2015/08/doping-top-secret-the-shadowy-world-of-athletics/ https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/jun/16/sebastian-coe-moment-of-truth http://www.bbc.com/sport/athletics/33749208