Italy Threatens to Boycott European Championships -- June 6, 2002
ROME, June 6. ITALIAN swimming officials threatened today to boycott the European Swimming Championships.
The threat, described as "an extreme measure," by Paolo Barelli, Chairman of the Italian Swimming Federation (FIN), was made in the event, he said, that the Italian Olympic Committee fails to take action to defend Massi Rosolino.
Rosolino, who won three Olympic medals in swimming in Sydney two years ago, including gold in the 200 IM, was accused by a former member of the Mafia of using human growth hormone (hGH).
"We are certain all our swimmers are clean," Barelli said. "We have a lot of faith in them and [explaining why he was asking for the Italian Olympic committee's intervention, said] we feel we can't properly defend ourselves from the accusations of a stranger."
Rosolino has said he will sue the newspaper that published the allegations.
The allegations of hGH use first surfaced several months after Sydney, when another Italian newspaper reported that Rosolino was one of a large number of Italian Olympic medalists, all of whom had trained at the national training center, who tested with astronomically high hGH levels -- some 15 to 17 times normal levels.
Rosolino and the others denied using the substance. At present there is no test to distinguish naturally-occurring, endogenous hGH (that is, hGH manufactured naturally by the body of the individual) from externally-administered, exogenous hGH.