Dutch athletics reeling after arrest of 2 relay runners

August 16, 2019
FILE - In this file photo dated Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018, Netherlands’ Madiea Ghafoor competes during a woman’s 400 meter semi-final race at the European Athletics Championships in Berlin, Germany.  Ghafoor is in a German jail awaiting trial on drug trafficking charges.
FILE - In this file photo dated Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018, Netherlands’ Madiea Ghafoor competes during a woman’s 400 meter semi-final race at the European Athletics Championships in Berlin, Germany. Ghafoor is in a German jail awaiting trial on drug trafficking charges.

(AP):

With the times she'd been running this season, Dutch athlete Madiea Ghafoor could have earned a trip to the World Championships in Doha next month as part of her country's 400-metre relay team. Instead, she is in a German jail awaiting trial on drug-trafficking charges.

Another promising Dutch sprinter, 21-year-old Roelf Bouwmeester, also won't be competing any time soon after Hungarian police arrested him earlier this month at a music festival and accused him of drug dealing.

Ad Roskam, technical director of the Dutch track and field association, said yesterday the sport's administrators are in shock at the recent arrests.

"We still have no reason to believe it is anything else than coincidence that we have two cases now, as if one is not shocking enough," Roskam said in a telephone interview.

Ghafoor's lawyer in Germany did not immediately return a call seeking comment. A lawyer representing Bouwmeester told Dutch media in Hungary this week that Bouwmeester has not yet commented on the case.

The first arrest came when German authorities stopped a car at a routine highway border check on June 18. Prosecutors allege that the vehicle was carrying 13.19 kilograms (29 pounds) of crystal meth and 43.34 kilograms (95.5 pounds) of ecstasy, as well as EU12,313.50 (US$13,730) in cash.

Judith Gottwald, a spokeswoman for the Kleve state court, confirmed that a 26-year-old Dutch sprinter from Amsterdam had been charged with trafficking a large quantity of drugs, but would not release her name, in line with German privacy laws. The sprinter is currently in investigative custody pending trial, ,but no date has been set.

DRUGS FOUND

Weeks later, security guards in Hungary said they noticed a large number of visitors to a tent at the Sziget music festival. Police said in a statement that when they went to investigate, they found pink ecstasy pills and pre-rolled marijuana cigarettes in plastic tubes. They arrested two Dutch men, including Bouwmeester, on suspicion of drug trafficking. Days later, Hungarian police tracked down a van allegedly linked to the suspects and discovered thousands more pills and marijuana cigarettes.

Both men remain in custody.

Roskam said both Ghafoor and Bouwmeester were part of the Dutch national relay setup. He said they train at their own clubs, not at the national training centre.

Bouwmeester had been selected for the European Under-23 championships and "Madiea, given the times she had produced this season, she could have been selected for the World Championships," Roskam said.

The athletics association has been in contact with teammates of the two athletes following the arrests.

"Some athletes are more upset and some are not upset -- they are focused on preparing for the next tournament and training," Roskam said.

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