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Tuesday, July 18, 2000
Australian athletes support anti-drug blood bank

 SYDNEY, Australia (AP) -- Australian athletes want to create their own blood bank for the Olympics in a bid to prove they are not drug cheats.

 The athletes would provide blood samples before the games begin Sept. 15. The blood would be frozen until tests become available for undetectable performance-enhancing substances, including human growth hormone.

 The Australian Sports Drug Agency said such a plan would present medical, legal, logistical and security obstacles. But sprinter Lee Naylor said the plan would not require official consent.

 "This is purely driven by athletes, we don't necessarily need or want official approval," Naylor told Australian Associated Press on Tuesday.

 "There has always been rumors about drug use and they are not going to stop until we stop whining about it and start doing something," she said. "This is one way we can prove to the public that we are drug free."

 Naylor said she has written to all potential Olympians from Australia.

 Earlier this month, former Olympic discus thrower Werner Reiterer said he knew of sports officials who condoned systematic drug use among high-profile athletes.

 The Australian Olympic Committee began an inquiry. But the inquiry stopped when Reiterer, an admitted drug cheat, refused to identify those supposedly using drugs.

 Naylor wants athletes to provide blood samples in a public forum Aug. 20, the day Australia's Olympic track and field team is announced.

 Australian scientists are still confident of producing a blood test to detect EPO, or erythropoietin, that could be used at the games.

 The International Olympic Committee meets July 31-Aug. 1 in Lausanne, Switzerland, to review the blood test and a French-developed urine test for EPO.
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