Olympic Athletes Pass Drug Tests


February 13, 2006

TURIN, Italy (AP by Stephen Wilson)—So far, so good on the doping front at the Turin Olympics. All 161 drug tests taken since the athletes' village opened Jan. 31 have come out clean, the IOC said Monday.

"There are no anti-doping violations to date, said International Olympic Committee spokeswoman Giselle Davies.

Testing of the 161 samples was completed by the end of Saturday's competition; more recent figures were not available. The IOC will only announce any doping offenses once all hearings and disciplinary procedures have been completed, a process which usually takes 24 hours.

The IOC figures include the 12 cross-country skiers who were suspended for elevated levels of hemoglobin, or oxygen-rich red blood cells. Those tests, carried out by the international ski federation, are considered "health checks rather than doping controls since there is no proof the skiers did anything wrong.

Four of those athletes chose to retake tests Monday, and all were cleared.

The IOC plans to conduct a total of 1,200 tests at the Turin Games, a 72 percent increase over the number in Salt Lake City four years ago. Testing is taking place in and out of competition, including at training sites and villages.

Davies said drug testers have been working by the rules, despite the unconventional methods used in some cases to exploit the element of surprise.

"Anti-doping procedures are being done fully within the rules, she said. "Notification to the athletes is being done by anti-doping control officers. They are identified and identifiable.

Davies said there is a place on athletes' doping control forms where they can make any complaints. So far, none have been made, she said.

Italy's tough anti-doping laws call for criminal sanctions, raising the possibility of police searches in the Olympic village.

"In theory it would be in our power, Lt. Alessio Bombara, the head of Turin's anti-doping police, said. "But it would be an absurd thing to do because we would be damaging the smooth running of the games.

Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press