Hitzfeld enters the frame for German vacancy

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The Independent Online

The German Football Federation wants Rudi Völler to guide the national team through to the 2002 World Cup, then have Bayern Munich's coach Ottmar Hitzfeld take over the reigns for the tournament itself.

The German Football Federation wants Rudi Völler to guide the national team through to the 2002 World Cup, then have Bayern Munich's coach Ottmar Hitzfeld take over the reigns for the tournament itself.

Hitzfeld is the most respected coach in Germany, having led Borussia Dortmund to victory in the 1997 European Cup and gone close twice in repeating the feat with Bayern over the last two seasons.

However, the Munich club were reluctant to endorse the idea yesterday, with their vice-president Karl-Heinz Rummenigge saying: "That hasn't been spoken about and it won't be spoken about - we have a wonderful relationship to Ottmar Hitzfeld."

But a growing number of reports have indicated that Germany's officials reached agreement on the new strategy when a task force met in Frankfurt on Tuesday to discuss how to fill the German coaching vacancy.

The new scenario came about after Christoph Daum, the coach lined up to take over, tested positive in a drugs test following weeks of rumours about his private life. Daum's handshake agreement to take over the national team on 1 July was dissolved on Saturday when the news broke and he was fired as coach of Bayer Leverkusen.

Bayer Leverkusen said yesterday they would consider the former German coach Berti Vogts for their vacancy, but were nevertheless unwilling to free Völler for the national post.

"There are three teams we are considering. In one team, Vogts plays a role," said Wolfgang Holzhäuser, a leading club official. But he added that if there was any suggestion that they should release Völler early from his contract as director of football "the answer is no with an exclamation point."

Meanwhile, Daum has told his former club he wants a second drugs test to be conducted in the United States as he attempts to prove his innocence. The German laboratory which conducted Daum's first hair analysis confirmed yesterday that it has yet to receive another request from the former Leverkusen coach.

"A second test will only take place if Christoph Daum asks for it - but there's no request in front of us," Professor Herbert Kaeferstein, of the Cologne University Institute of Medicine, said.

A claim by a former national team member, William "Jimmy" Hartwig, of widespread cocaine use by German players has been disputed by the chief doctor who tests First and Second Division players.

"If that was the case, then all the doping tests for cocaine from the Bundesliga wouldn't have turned out negative for years. That substance [cocaine] is on the list just like marijuana, heroin or hashish," Dr Wilfried Kindermann said yesterday.

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