Drugs in sport: Germans put ban on plasma substitutes

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THE GERMAN Athletics Federation (DLV) said yesterday it had banned plasma substitutes after it appeared that at least two prominent German athletes had used one called HES. "To protect athletes from unauthorised manipulations, we have decided together with the DLV doctors that the use of plasma substitutes such as HES should not be allowed any more," the federation said in a statement.

The DLV said it would also ask the International Amateur Athletic Federation to put HES on its list of banned substances. The federation statement came after the European 10,000 metres bronze medallist, Stephane Franke, was quoted as saying that both he and the European 3,000 metres steeplechase champion, Damian Kallabis, had taken HES during the European Championships in Budapest last August.

A German federation doctor, Karlheinz Graff, said last month he had received a request from two German athletes for HES, which expands the volume of blood plasma. Graff said HES could be used to combat the blood thickening which might result from the intake of erythropoietin (EPO) or other forms of blood doping.

"We are making this public because we believe we are innocent and have nothing to hide," said Franke, who trains with Kallabis. "We have never taken erythropoietin and we are ready to submit ourselves to blood controls at any time."

EPO, which stimulates the production of red blood cells, cannot be detected through existing testing. It has been linked to several sports, most notably cycling during the major doping scandal which marred this year's Tour de France.