Olympic Officials Pressure Italy to Drop Harsh Penalties for Doped Athletes -- October 17, 2005
By Phillip Whitten
October 17. OLYMPIC officials may be against the use of illegal, performance-enhancing drugs, but apparently they believe that Italy has gone too far.
According to reports from Italy and Canada, IOC President Jacques Rogge, WADA President Dick Pound and organizers of the 2006 Winter Olympics are asking Italian President Silvio Berlusconi to suspend Italy's tough anti-doping laws during the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Turin next February 10-26.
Italy passed a law several years ago that calls for jail time for athletes convicted of using illegal drugs to enhance their performance. The law was enacted following a series of doping scandals.
Dick Pound, the Montreal lawyer who is also a Vice President of the IOC, said Friday: "The 'problem' is that Italian law criminalizes drug use in sport. If a Canadian comes to Turin and tests positive, he or she risks going to jail. The Olympic rules and the WADA code never contemplated having doped athletes locked up. Just get them out of sport."
"I don't know what legal mechanisms are available, or if the law can be suspended for a certain period or declared inoperative," he said.
IOC president Jacques Rogge will be in Italy on Nov. 17 to meet with Prime Minister Berlusconi to ask for just such a suspension. Reportedly, his request has the support of Mario Pescante, the Italian government's watchdog on the 2006 Games.
Turin Organizing Committee Media Director Giuseppe Gattino called the doping penalties issue one of the most controversial issues of the Olympics.
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