'There is no doping in football in Germany'

Berlin - Germany national coach Joachim Low insisted on Sunday he has never seen an example of drug-abuse in German football, despite the current torrent of confessions rocking cycling.

German sport was shocked last week when ace cycling sprinter Erik Zabel became the latest big name in the sport to confess he had taken banned the blood-booster EPO (Erythropoietin).

"As far as I am concerned, there is no doping in football in Germany," Low told the Sunday edition of German daily Die Welt.

"We have had very strict controls here for a long time: after each round of the Bundesliga there are controls and nobody knows who is going to be monitored. There are random tests in training and during competitions.

"But we do not ignore the question of doping, there are a series of on-going tests," said the former Freiburg coach and player.

Coincidentally, the club recently ended its collaboration with the town's private university hospital, which sacked doctors Andreas Schmid and Lothar Heinrich for admitting they supplied EPO to Tour de France winners Bjarne Riis and Jan Ullrich in the 1990s.

"It has been a long time since I was in Freiburg and I have never seen doping in football during my career," Low said.

With Germany facing Euro 2008 qualifying matches against San Marino, in Nuremberg on June 2, and Slovakia, in Duisburg on June 6, Low said his players are playing too much football.

"We need to reduce the number of matches," said Low.

"The German players had no time for instance to prepare after last year's World Cup and it meant we saw some poor performances this year."

Low will be without his captain Michael Ballack, who is struggling to overcome an ankle injury, as well as Bayern Munich pair striker Lukas Podolski and dynamic midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger.

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