By Susan Westemeyer
German athletes seem to be successfully avoiding the national doping controllers, according to a report on German ARD television. It reported Wednesday night that in some 400 instances out of 4500 tests, the athletes could not be found by the controllers for unannounced testing. No names were released, but the sports of cycling, track and field, swimming, skiing and triathlon were mentioned.
According to the ARD, the athletes who missed the tests - whether it was accidentally or on purpose - included 32 world champions and seven Olympic medalists. One Olympic champion allegedly could not be reached for control five times within "a few months".
Under the German national antidoping association rules, the first missed test requires an official warning, the second a ban of at least three months, both sanctions to be handed out by the responsible sports federation. However, the ARD reported, the sanctions do no appear to have been used.
NADA director Roland Augustin told the Süddeutsche Zeitung that there are a number of athletes who regularly outwit the controllers: "But they do it so cleverly, that we are powerless against them."
German Olympic Committee General Director Michael Vesper said, "We are concerned and have asked for an explanation. If the problems in the report turn out to be true, then it is up to the NADA to correct them immediately."
Richard Pound, head of the WADA, said he was "very surprised", noting "I thought that the German anti-doping program was first class."