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Bodybuilders take off after drug testers show up

THE Belgian bodybuilding championships were canceled over the weekend after all competitors fled when doping officials showed up.

After a spate of positive doping tests over the past years in Belgium, the championships had been moved just across the Dutch border to Vlissingen.

"They must have felt safe out there," doping official Hans Cooman said on Monday. Still, Cooman and two colleagues got the necessary papers to check the tournament in the Netherlands.

And when they identified themselves just before the event as the 20 bodybuilders were weighing in and preparing themselves the testers got the surprise of their lives. They all just got up and left, preferring to quit the event rather than submit to doping tests, some grabbing their gear and heading straight out the door.

"They must have been flabbergasted," he said.

Bodybuilders usually take months to prepare for such championships, yet the sight of controllers was too much for them.

"I have never seen anything like it and hope never to see anything like it again," Cooman said.

He says the sport has a history of doping "and this incident didn't do its reputation any good."

Last year, 22 of 29 tests were positive, either for steroids or for refusing testing, for a staggering 75 percent ratio.

"This was the first time though we turned up in the Netherlands," Cooman said.

Minutes before the start, it left organizers with no option but to tell a few hundred fans that had come to the Arsenaal theater that there was no point in staying, having not seen a single gleaming pose.

Now Cooman and his colleagues will report the case to the disciplinary committee, which will have to decide whether the athletes can be sanctioned because they refused to be tested.

When contacted, a man at the NABBA Belgium bodybuilding federation refused to discuss the facts and could not explain why the athletes had suddenly rushed off. He refused to give his name.


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