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German Coach Barred for Drug Role

January 5, 1998

PERTH, Australia (AP) _ The head of Germany’s swim team was stripped of his accreditation at the world championships Sunday for admitting he gave steroids to swimmers when he coached East Germany.

Winfried Leopold, who is facing prosecution in Germany for his role in systematic drug abuse. He first admitted in 1991 that he gave steroids, then did so again in 1993.

FINA, swimming’s governing body, banned Leopold from an official role but said he was free to stay with the team in an unofficial capacity. Leopold was not taking calls at his Fremantle hotel Sunday.

FINA honorary secretary Gunnar Werner said he spoke with the German federation and did not expect an appeal.

``If someone is admitting officially in the newspapers and the television interviews that he has committed the doping offense with regard to helping athletes with enhancing drugs, that is a crime in accordance with the FINA rules,″ Werner said.

Although Leopold already had admitted administering drugs, his public remarks Thursday prompted FINA’s actions.

Werner said he sympathized with Leopold’s situation in East Germany.

``I’m European myself and of course I am familiar with the situation in Germany,″ he said. ``But unfortunately that doesn’t help.″

Australian Swimming president Terry Gathercole praised Leopold for his honesty and FINA for its ruling.

``The drugs issue is one that is potentially very detrimental to the future of our sport and FINA has sent the right message,″ Gathercole told The Associated Press. ``This decision is in the best interests of the sport.″

Rueediger Tetow, president of the German swim federation, said Thursday his group continues to support Leopold. He points to Leopold’s openness, noting the coach acknowledged his involvement as far back as 1991.

``There are some pretty indignant swimmers in this country and in the rest of the world and I think rightly so,″ Talbot said. ``Now to bring themselves out, there are a lot of people who feel very badly done by because they’ve been cheated out _ today it means money _ and also out of gold medals.

``It’s pretty upsetting for athletes who commit their lives to do this sort of thing.″

Leopold received a letter last month from Berlin prosecutors investigating sports physicians and officials who gave steroids to under-age East German athletes without telling them.

German swimmers supported Leopold when the letter was published.

``He outed himself early and showed great courage, accepting personal career disadvantages,″ said Mark Warnecke, a spokesman for the swimmers.

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