Steroid found in home of German track coach

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On the day that athletics stars Tim Montgomery and Chryste Gaines received a possible date of their appeal hearing before the Court of Arbitration for Sport, in respect of their alleged drugs offences, a famous past doping affair was evoked on Wednesday by news that an anabolic steroid had been discovered in the apartment of Thomas Springstein, the former coach to Kathrin Krabbe, the last East German star athlete.

Federal police raided Springstein's apartment in Magdeburg on Monday. Marginalised for most of the past decade, Springstein had only begun to be accepted back into the German athletics community during the past two years, advising one of his former charges, 400m runner Grit Breuer, as well as Nils Schuman, the surprise Olympic 800m champion from Sydney.

Springstein was away on holiday with Breuer when the raid took place, and as a result has been unavailable for comment.

Fifteen years ago, Springstein coached two of the last wave of East German track stars, Krabbe and Breuer. Krabbe won the European Championships sprint double in Split in 1990, in the last appearance of a separate German Democratic Republic team after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Breuer won the 400m. But while training in South Africa six months prior to the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, the pair supplied urine samples deemed to have come from a third party. Later that year they were caught using clenbuterol, which is both a masking agent (for other drugs) and an anabolic agent.

They were banned for four years, subsequently reduced to one year by the DLV in 1993. The International Association of Athletics Federations responded with a two-year ban, and Krabbe promptly retired. After completing her ban, Breuer returned to competition, and won the European 400m title in 1998. The CAS have scheduled the appeals of sprinters Montgomery and Gaines, who are accused of drugs violations by the US Anti-Doping Agency following its investigation into the Balco laboratory in California, for the first week of November in San Francisco. This date, however, is subject to confirmation from all the parties.

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