Germans retreat

GERMAN athletics officials backed down on controversial proposals to cut doping bans at a meeting of the sport's governing body in Stuttgart yesterday and the present four-year ban for a first offence will stay.

German athletics federation (DLV) president Helmut Digel said he had withdrawn a motion to the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF) congress calling for a more flexible ban of between two and four years.

IAAF officials said no changes would be made to the present doping rules.

''From what I've learned here I think the time is not right for change within the IAAF,'' Digel said. ''A working party will look into the problem and maybe the congress in Gothenburg [Sweden] in two years' time may be the time to look at it again.'' An IAAF official, who refused to be named, said: ''There will now be no changes to the doping rules.'' The DLV, facing major legal difficulties with a recent case involving sprinter Katrin Krabbe, believes the four-year ban, introduced two years ago, is too tough to enforce under German civil law.

The federation is concerned that a civil court could rule that four years is too long to stop someone carrying out their profession.