Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Hermens denies knowingly sending athletes to doctor for doping

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BERLIN (AP) - Jos Hermens, a high-profile agent whose roster includes long-distance great Haile Gebreslassie, denied Tuesday he knowingly sent some of his clients 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 German coach Thomas Springstein, convicted on a doping charge. Hermens is the former manager of two German athletes Springstein coached - former 800-metre Olympic champion Nils Schumann and former world relay champion Grit Breuer. "I still don't know what they are blaming me for. It's only a cheap publicity stunt," Hermens told The Associated Press. "I'm sure it won't come to a court case. I have done nothing wrong." Hermens said his name surfaced in e-mails sent from Springstein to Miguel Angel Peraita. The German athletics federation has also filed a criminal complaint against the Spanish doctor, accusing both of trafficking in banned substances. Later, the Dutch agent told the German daily Der Taggespiegel he sent Schumann, Breuer and German high jumper Awemu Mensah - who served a doping suspension - to Peraita. Hermens said he had contact to at least 25 doctors and 50 coaches and that he nothing to do with doping. "I have been involved with at least 500 athletes," Hermens said. "But it's crazy to say I'm involved in a doping network. If someone commits murder that 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's current clients include Olympic 10,000 champion Kenenisa Bekele as well as Gebreslassie. 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." Neither Schumann or Breuer faces a criminal investigation at the moment - the German athletics federation has given the two runners seven days to explain some of the "medical" breaches reportedly shown in the Springstein court documents. Springstein was convicted in March for giving a banned substance to minors he was coaching. Hermens was also the manager of Breuer and Katrin Krabbe when they tested positive for the banned substance clenbuterol in'92. Both Breuer and Krabbe, who won 100 and 200 golds at the'91 world championships, were coached by Springstein at the time.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 21, 2006 $sourceSection$sourcePage

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