By Susan Westemeyer
German television station ARD has retracted its charges that four pro cyclists and unnamed German skiers and biathletes were involved in illegal doping at the Viennese blood center, "Human Plasma". Before Thursday afternoon's broadcast of a biathlon race, a moderator said, "It is not justified and not compatible with our professional standards, that such sweeping charges be made without having any evidence to back them up. We regret that accusations and suspicions against athletes arose because of this report."
Earlier this week, the ARDhad claimed that some 30 to 50 world-class athletes visited the facilities for forbidden blood transfusions, including cross-country skiers and biathletes, as well as four professional cyclists.
However, the situation is far from over. The Bundeskriminalamt, German national police, said that it is continuing to investigate whether German athletes were involved in blood-doping at the lab. A spokeswoman told the sid press agency, "We are conducting an intensive exchange of information with the Austrian officials."
The cyclists were not directly mentioned in any of the statements issued today.