BRUSSELS (AP) - Ready to flex their pecs and strike a pose, bodybuilders at the Belgian championships scattered when doping officials showed up.
After a spate of positive doping tests in recent years in Belgium, the event had been moved across the Dutch border to Vlissingen for the weekend competition.
"They must have felt safe out there," doping official Hans Cooman told the Associated Press on Monday.
But Cooman and two colleagues got the necessary papers to check the tournament in the Netherlands. And when they identified themselves just before the event - with the 20 bodybuilders weighing in and preparing themselves - the testers drew quite a response.
The bodybuilders got up and left, preferring to quit rather than submit to doping tests. Some grabbed their gear and headed straight out the door.
"They must have been flabbergasted," Cooman 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.
Bodybuilding has a long history of doping, and Cooman said this latest flap "didn't do its reputation any good."
Last year, 22 of 29 tests were positive, either for steroids or for refusing testing, a failure rate of a staggering 75 percent.
"This was the first time though we turned up in the Netherlands," Cooman said.
Minutes before the start of the championships, before even one gleaming pose was on display, organizers had no option but to tell a few hundred fans that had come to the Arsenaal theater that there was no point in staying.
Now Cooman and his colleagues will report the case to the disciplinary committee, which will have to decide whether the bodybuilders can be punished because they refused to be tested.
A man who refused to give his name at the NABBA Belgium bodybuilding federation could not explain why the competitors had suddenly rushed off and would not discuss the matter.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.