German swimmers insist they are clean - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

German swimmers insist they are clean

By Todd Balym 04/08/2006 02:22:22 PM Comments (0)

German head swim coach Orjan Madsen is adamant his athletes are clean and says they'll go out of their way to prove it following their world record spree at the European championships.

It didn't take long for the doping question to be asked after German women swept to three freestyle world records in Budapest.

Most notably Britta Steffen became the world's fastest woman with a 53.30sec 100m world record, clocked the fastest 4x100m freestyle relay split (52.66s) and also helped the 4x200m freestyle relay team to slash two seconds off the existing mark.

The 23-year-old hadn't ranked in the world's top 10 until this year's German team trials.

While she broke two Australian-held world marks (4x100m and Libby Lenton's 100m) in the first serious challenge to the Australian women's dominance since the 2004 Olympic Games, the Aussies aren't questioning her performances.

But Madsen acknowledged the German team had to live with the tainted legacy of doping practised during the reign of East German teams in late 1970s.

He said his team, like the Australian team, would introduce regular blood testing at all team camps, starting next month, to demonstrate their innocence to the world.

"We (Germany) have a bad history of doping," Madsen told swimnews.com.

"The only solution is to declare why our swimmers are as fast as they are. That's just the way it is. We have to check blood, we have to make ourselves available, and will do at the start and end of each altitude camp."

After a disappointing 2004 Olympics Steffen threatened to quit the sport and she did not compete at all in 2005.

But under the guidance of coach Norbert Warnatzsch she has turned her career around to become the fastest woman in the world.

One of the first questions asked of Warnatzsch after Steffen's record swim was "what about doping?"

"I was furious," Warnatzsch told swimnews.com.

"I swear that she is clean.

"She has changed all aspects of her training. She has lost 10kg in weight over the last year. She has taken on a new attitude in life and is a more relaxed person. She's worked very hard."

Madsen has invited the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and any other international agencies to freely test his athletes.

Results show that Steffen was tested three times in 2005 and once so far this year, while German swimmers averaged just over 300 out-of-competition tests over the past few years.

Germany's desire for transparency was welcomed by Australian head coach Alan Thompson, whose team also conducts blood testing.

Thompson doesn't believe any of the German performances are the result of doping.

"I don't see any reason why you would think (doping) at all," said Thompson.

"I don't see any evidence of (doping) at all.

"Our guys have (made big improvements to break world records) too.

"It's a shame when there are questions like that asked about good performances."

"We probably thought they would swim fast, the world record was a bit of a surprise but after the relay (world record) the individual record was no surprise.

"It's not unexpected."

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