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Arbeit Fired Over Controversy

November 20, 1997

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) _ Athletics Australia officials will drop former East German coach Ekkart Arbeit on Friday following controversy over his links to systematic drug abuse and his work as a secret police enformer.

Athletics Australia called a news conference Friday to announce Arbeit’s sacking, according to an AA source.

Arbeit’s wife confirmed the decision, saying, ``It’s a great pity for the athletes of Australia.″

She said her husband knew about the decision and had discussed it with AA executive director Martin Soust.

Australian Sports Minister Andrew Thomson, who demanded AA make a decision quickly when Arbeit was exposed as a Stasi informer this week, applauded the impending announcement.

``We welcome this and we look forward to the athletics community now getting together and focusing on their goal, which is going to be to win some medals for Australia at the 2000 Olympic Games,″ Thomson said.

Arbeit’s appointment as coach was disclosed in early October and sparked a huge outcry from Australian track and field coaches and athletes.

Secret police files since released in Berlin confirmed Arbeit was aware of the systematic doping of athletes during the 1980s _ claims he has denied.

They also showed that he spied on athletes for the Stasi _ the secret police.

The files show the former East German coach was given a codename of Klaus Tisch and was an ``unofficial co-operator″ for almost 20 years.

The documents confirmed Arbeit knew of the East German drug program.