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German Swimmer Faces Lifetime Ban

January 5, 1998

PERTH, Australia (AP) _ German swim team leader Winfried Leopold faced a possible life ban from the sport after being stripped of his world championships accreditation for admitting to administering drugs.

As the German team explored avenues of appeal Monday, swimming’s world governing body FINA warned the ban from the championships might not be Leopold’s only punishment.

FINA’s honorary secretary Gunnar Werner said a doping panel of lawyers would investigate Leopold’s statements.

``That panel will make their investigation, give him a fair hearing and then make a decision,″ Werner said. ``If found guilty, the suspension may be up to life, ending his career.″

Meanwhile, Werner said statements from former 1500-meter world champion Jorg Hoffman that he took drugs while swimming for East Germany had been referred back to the German team for possible action.

``I have spoken with the president of the German association and asked him to investigate the case,″ Werner said. ``FINA have not yet dealt with it.″

Leopold admitted Thursday that he administered drugs to swimmers under the totalitarian East German regime. In 1991 and 1993, he admitted to being a part of systematic doping before 1990 and served a two-year ban.

Werner said FINA was unaware of the admissions until Leopold’s press statements Thursday.

``We didn’t know anything; as a Swede, a neighbor of Germany, I know very well about Germany and I have never known of him being involved in drugs before,″ Werner said. ``Swimming is going on in 170 countries _ it’s absolutely impossible for us to know everything.″

That shocked German team officials.

German team media official Gerd Heydn said it was unfair that Leopold was banned for admissions he had made as early as 1991.

``He was deeply disappointed and surprised at this (FINA) reaction because he thought he was honest and told the truth in 1991, not a week before leaving for Perth,″ Heydn said.

``It’s been well known worldwide for seven years, and Mr. Leopold was already punished in Germany. He was out of his job for two years, and that is enough.″

The German team was told of FINA’s decision at a meeting late Sunday.

Heydn said Leopold’s immediate reaction was that he wanted to fly home _ but the team had urged him to stay.

``It is not decided what he will do _ at the moment he is in Perth,″ Heydn said.

``The team has, without any exception, asked him to stay. He has the full support of the German team.″

German swimming federation president Ruediger Tretow said a decision on a possible appeal was expected late Monday, but added the process would not favor Leopold.

``The people to appeal to are also the people who made the decision,″ Tretow said.

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