IOC to set up commission over doping allegations

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will set up a special panel to investigate the doping scandal involving the Austrian Nordic ski team at the Turin Olympics, IOC president Jacques Rogge said on Tuesday.

The commission most likely will be established in Lausanne, Switzerland, after the Olympics once all the drug test results are in and the IOC has access to the evidence seized by Italian police in raids on Austrian team lodgings, Rogge told The Associated Press.

The Austrian Olympic committee, ski federation, athletes and coaches will all be covered by the investigation, he said.

The IOC could take sanctions against the Austrians even without any athletes testing positive for banned substances.

“To find somebody guilty of doping you don’t necessarily need urine and blood samples,” Rogge said. “It can also be based on circumstantial evidence.”

Admission of guilt or possession of drugs is also enough to warrant IOC sanctions, Rogge said.

Under the IOC investigation, athletes could be disqualified retroactively and have their Olympic results annulled.

Rogge cited the Balco steroid case in the United States, in which several athletes—including former 100-metre world record holder Tim Montgomery—have been suspended based on material gathered in the criminal probe of the California lab founded by Victor Conte.

“Even if there is a negative test, that is only part of the equation,” Rogge said. “We have evidence of Italian police which we should receive shortly.
If you want to prove the guilt of athletes, there are various methods of proof.”

Rogge said among those the IOC will want to question is Walter Mayer, the banned Austrian coach linked to blood doping whose presence in Italy led police to search the lodgings of the team’s cross-country and biathlon teams.

Saturday’s police raid in the mountain hamlets of Pragelato and San Sicario turned up about 100 syringes, unlabeled drugs and a blood transfusion machine, Italian investigators said.

At the same time, IOC drug control officers rousted six skiers and four biathletes for surprise, out-of-competition doping tests. The test results haven’t been announced.

Further evidence was collected on Monday night in a search of the private home that Mayer had rented for the Olympics in Pragelato, said Mario Pescante, IOC member and government supervisor for the games.

Mayer fled to Austria in the wake of the raids. He crashed his car into a police blockade just over the border late on Sunday and is now in a psychiatric hospital for fear he may be a danger to himself.

“It is indeed a saga,” Rogge said. “Not even Hollywood could come up with a scenario like it.”

Also on Monday, Austrian ski federation president Peter Schroecksnadel said that two team members who left Italy acknowledged they “may have used illegal methods”.

Wolfgang Perner and Wolfgang Rottmann, since kicked off the team for leaving the games early, made the statement to the team’s sports director, Markus Gandler, Schroecksnadel said at a news conference in Sestriere.

Rogge gave further details of the coordinated police and IOC anti-doping swoop on the Austrians last weekend. He said the decision was made late on Saturday afternoon for both sides to go in at the same time.

“They said, `We want Mayer,”’ Rogge said. “They said, `We will strike today. Will you please do it at the same time?”

While the IOC favors only sports sanctions for athletes in doping cases, Rogge said it was entirely appropriate for police to go after Mayer.

“For me, Mayer is to be considered the man who organises doping,” he said. “The police have made steps to identify a drug dealer. And the IOC has clearly shown we will not tolerate these people, even in private accommodations.” - Sapa-AP

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