Athletics: Claims over a doping network 'are crazy', says Hermens

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The Independent Online

Jos Hermens, the agent whose clients include Ethiopia's Olympic 10,000 metres champions, Haile Gebrselassie and Kenenisa Bekele, has denied sending some of his athletes to a Spanish doctor for doping.

The German athletics federation filed a criminal complaint against Hermens on Monday after his name surfaced in the court documents of the former East German coach Thomas Springstein, who was convicted in March of giving a banned substance to minors he had been coaching.

Hermens is the former manager of two German athletes who Springstein coached - former 800m Olympic champion Nils Schumann and former world 400m relay champion Grit Breuer.

"I still don't know what they are blaming me for. It's only a cheap publicity stunt," Hermens said. "I'm sure it won't come to a court case. I have done nothing wrong." He said his name surfaced in e-mails sent from Springstein to the Spanish doctor, Miguel Angel Peraita. The German athletics federation has also filed a criminal complaint against the doctor, accusing both of trafficking in banned substances.

Later, the Dutch agent told the German daily Der Taggespiegel that he sent Schumann, Breuer and German high jumper Awemu Mensah - who served a doping suspension - to Peraita. Hermens insisted: "I've been involved with at least 500 athletes. But it's crazy to say I'm involved in a doping network. If someone commits murder it does not mean I'm a murderer."

Peraita, according to Spanish media reports, shares or shared an office in Madrid with Jose Merino Batres, one of the sports doctors under investigation in the Spanish cycling doping scandal. That scandal, one of the worst to engulf cycling, led to top stars like Jan Ullrich and Ivan Basso being banned from this year's Tour de France.

Hermens said he recommended Peraita to the three German athletes because he believed some of the Spanish doctor's methods, which included homeopathy, were revolutionary.

"I was maybe a little dumb," Hermens said. "I should have asked more questions about what Peraita exactly does."