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Maier Dismisses Doping Rumors

October 24, 1998

SOELDEN, Austria (AP) _ Hermann Maier, the Austrian who dominated world skiing last season, dismissed rumors about performance-enhancing drugs, saying his Swiss rivals are poor losers.

``The Swiss team had a bad season last year so I understand an attack like that now,″ Maier said Friday. ``It’s never easy to lose in sport. You must learn to lose.″

Swiss ski boss Theo Nadig was recently quoted in the Swiss newspaper ``Sport″ as saying that a diet of pasta and granola could not explain Maier’s rapid physical development.

``Even if you train a lot, an athlete can only gain about 3 1/2 to 4 1/4 kilos (7-8 1/2 pounds) of muscle mass, and even that’s a lot,″ Nadig was quoted as saying. ``But when you hear what’s said about Hermann Maier’s development, you get suspicious. Alone, pasta and Muesli (granola) won’t achieve that.″

Newly appointed FIS president Gian Franco Kasper said Nadig could face stiff sanctions if the International Ski Federation finds his accusations without foundation.

In a fiery showdown between Nadig and Austrian alpine director Hans Pum on the eve of today’s season-opening race, Nadig eventually bent.

``I’m not accusing anybody,″ he said. ``I was just curious. Hermann Maier is the reference point and as the head of the Swiss team it’s my job to find the best ways to train my skiers and provide them with the best training possible.

``I don’t think that kind of muscle mass can be developed just from pasta and Muesli, and I was curious to know what they were doing it.″

Speculation over Maier’s powerful physique took root last season when the 26-year-old came out of nowhere to dominate.

As a child, Maier was kicked out of his ski school because of his weak knees. Later the national junior squads repeatedly refused to take him on because of weak joints.

Sparking further rumors, Maier’s name has been tied to doctor Bernd Pansold, the last coach of the Eastern German women’s swimming team.

Questioned about his training at the Obertauern independent Olympic training center in Austria where Pansold works, Maier denied any connection to the former East German.

``I train at the sports center but my trainer is Berg Mueller,″ said Maier, who won two Olympic gold medals last season along with the World Cup overall, giant slalom and super-G titles.

``That other doctor (Pansold) is a doctor who analyses physical performance data. He studies before and after performance results to be able to adapt your training. I have no particular contact with him.″

FIS said that over the summer some 450-500 out-of-competition drug tests were carried out without a positive test.

Maier said he had been tested four times since the start of the year. The skier said he was tested during the Nagano Olympics, and twice underwent FIS pre-announced urine testing. The Austrian also said he has been tested ``about 20 to 30 times in Austria″ by the national federation.

FIS requires blood tests twice a year at a laboratory in Innsbruck, Austria.

The FIS will meet Nov. 28-29 to discuss the issue of drugs in skiing with other winter sports federations, before attending the world conference on doping organized by the International Olympic Committee in February.

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