Blood Gear Found in Austrian Nordic Team House


Salt Lake City, Utah Feb. 28, 2002 (AP by Paul Foy)--House cleaners found used blood transfusion bags at a home where Austrian Nordic skiers stayed during the Winter Olympics.

International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge opened an investigation Thursday into the find, ordering that ``all scientific techniques'' be used, ``including DNA testing.''

The bags were found Wednesday along with blood transfusion sets, including tubes and needles. Wasatch County Sheriff Mike Spano gathered the evidence and turned it over to doping control officials for the Salt Lake Organizing Committee.

Spano said the transfusion bags were drained of all but residual blood, indicating they had been used.

``I didn't monkey with it,'' Spano said. ``I had gloves on, we stuffed it in a large bag, I washed my hands of it and immediately turned it over to SLOC. They are so up on this doping.''

The home in Midway, Utah, near the Olympic Nordic venue at Soldier Hollow, had been rented to the Austrian team, which kept 10 athletes there.

Doping officials will analyze blood residue for any sign they contained banned substances.

Dr. Charles Rich, SLOC's chief medical officer and a member of the IOC medical commission, said he found it difficult to believe the Austrians had any legitimate medical reasons for using blood transfusions during the Olympics, ``where oxygen-carrying capacity is so important'' to winning.

Rich said if it was doping, technicians could test the DNA of residual blood to implicate athletes who could be stripped of any medals they won.

The Austrians took home three Olympic medals in Nordic events at Soldier Hollow. Christian Hoffmann won a silver and Mikhail Botvinov bronze in the 30-kilometer race, while Wolfgang Perner won bronze in the 10-kilometer biathlon sprint.

Spain's Johann Muehlegg was stripped of his gold medal in the 50-kilometer race after testing positive for darbepoetin, which boosts production of oxygen-carrying red blood cells.

``Conducting blood transfusions to enhance performance is not only unethical and prohibited by the Olympic movement anti-doping code, but is also extremely dangerous to the health of the athlete,'' the IOC said Thursday.

Copyright © 2000 The Associated Press