Emil Vrijman, a Dutch lawyer and acting director for the Netherlands Center for Doping Control, who became involved in the case as an expert representative for the athletes, says, "The International Olympic Committee [ IOC] charter for doping in sports says very clearly that in order to have your athletes tested abroad, you should have an agreement [on testing procedures] between federations. The Germans didn't know how the South Africans tested. Why didn't they send someone over? All they had in South Africa was a faxed message to conduct tests. No procedural guidelines were drawn up."
And it seems the testing was not handled in textbook fashion. In their statement to the German federation, the three women said that the South African doctor administering the test carried their sample bottles around the examining room while she was filling out the necessary forms. As Vrijman points out, "By the time the athletes got dressed, it would have been easy for the physician to switch the samples. We in Holland make sure the athletes carry their samples themselves until the bottle is sealed before their eyes."
Also, the South Africans did not secure the samples—an A and a B sample for each athlete—for shipment in the manner followed by the IOC and the IAAF, the world governing body for track and field. According to Vrijman, the South African sample bottles were not sealed but had only screw-on caps; the plastic shipping containers in which the bottles were placed were not lined with the tamper-resistant hard plastic in use elsewhere; instead of being sealed in a pouch the containers were shipped in a duffel bag with a zipper.
Furthermore, Vrijman says, samples are supposed to be shipped by courier, but in this case the duffel bag was sent unaccompanied and was left unattended for two days in an airport before it reached the IOC-accredited testing lab in Cologne headed by Dr. Manfred Donike, an expert in the field of drug testing. Donike took the unusual step of immediately ordering that a video camera record all his moves while he opened the A containers. According to Vrijman, when he later asked Donike why he insisted on the video, Donike replied, "[The samples] looked suspicious to me."
"If you know from the press who is training in South Africa and you receive samples from there, you can piece this together and get your video camera and tape it," Vrijman says. "This didn't give me the idea that the procedure was neutral. It should be totally anonymous."
After each of the three women's B samples also tested as coming from the same source, the German federation concluded that the athletes had contrived to pour the same untainted urine into all of their sample bottles. But wouldn't it figure that the athletes would have thought to use three separate batches of "clean" urine? "A lot of people ask, 'How can you be so stupid?' " Berendonk says. "I think it is a certain audacity. In the past when there were rumors that their samples had been tampered with, they escaped unscathed. It was also unusual that the three samples were compared. Usually samples are only examined for whether they are positive or negative. Professor Donike must have been suspicious."
The case is in the hands of the federation's legal committee, which probably will complete its review within a month. The committee has the power to overrule the suspensions. Last week, in her regular column for the tabloid Bild, Krabbe seemed optimistic: Under the headline I BET THAT I WILL COMPETE IN BARCELONA! she said, "You get the feeling there is a conspiracy against you.... A lawyer wrote to me: 'Keep your head high. There are jealous people everywhere.' I believe that justice will prevail."