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Baumann Cleared of Doping

July 14, 2000

BERLIN (AP) _ The decision by German athletics’ officials to clear former Olympic 5,000-meter champion Dieter Baumann of doping charges could face a challenge from the IAAF.

``If an examination of the ruling leaves doubt, our arbitration panel will take up the case,″ Istvan Gyulai, general secretary of the international track and field governing body, said Friday.

The German federation’s legal panel on Thursday cleared Baumann of a two-year ban he received after testing positive for nandrolone. The panel ruled that irregularities and neglect had surfaced ``in the taking, storage and transport of the two urine samples.″

Baumann has qualified and plans to compete at the Sydney games.

The case of Baumann, who tested positive on Oct. 19 and Nov. 12, shocked both the German track establishment and public. A gold medal winner at Barcelona in 1992, he had campaigned heavily against doping in the sport.

Baumann, preparing for the Olympic games with altitude training in Switzerland, said the ruling was vindication for his campaign to clear his name since being suspended on Nov. 19.

``I’ve been proven right because I’ve always said I will be cleared and will start at the Olympics,″ said the 35-year-old Baumann.

Baumann’s lawyer said the IAAF will not overturn the legal panel’s decision and threatened to slap the German Athletics Federation with a multimillion mark lawsuit. ``But nothing will happen until after the Olympics,″ Michael Lehner said.

The IAAF lifted a two-year ban on sprinter Merlene Ottey for nandrolone use on July 3 after an international track panel said the lab improperly tested her urine sample. She had denied taking the drug and was cleared by the Jamaican federation.

Nandrolone is a steroid that is easily detectable in standard drug tests. But there has been a spate of positive nandrolone cases around the world over the past year, prompting speculation that the drug is contained in nutritional supplements.

The president of the athletics federation, Helmut Digel, said Baumann will be immediately reinstated to the national team. But he also expressed fear that clearing the distance runner was a breakdown in the sport’s doping controls.

``If we don’t start a thorough reform (of our system) at our next organization meeting in March, then this isn’t the sport that I want to represent anymore,″ said Digel, who had a close relationship to Baumann and was visibly shocked by the news of the distance runner’s positive testing in November.

Other German athletes like Susan Tiedke, who served a doping suspension, have complained publicly that Baumann has received preferential treatment because of his close ties to the track establishment and popularity in Germany.

At one point, Baumann claimed his toothpaste had been spiked with nandrolone, but a German state court threw the matter out, saying there was no proof of outside tampering in his case.

But a pharmacological institute hired to check Baumann’s claims discovered one of the four urine samples it was sent from the original testing laboratory to analyze didn’t stem from the distance runner.

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