Chairman says WADA will steer clear of Italian laws during Torino Games


Chairman says WADA will steer clear of Italian laws during Torino Games{mosimage}ROME (AP) – The World Anti-Doping Agency is staying clear of the conflict over Italy’s tough drug laws ahead of the Turin Olympics.

“This is an issue between the IOC and Italy based on the conditions the Games were awarded to Italy back in 1999,” WADA chairman Dick Pound said Tuesday in a conference call from his office in Montreal.

Under Italian law, athletes can face criminal sanctions for doping violations — raising the possibility of police raids in the Olympic village during the Feb. 10-26 Games.

Under International Olympic Committee rules, athletes face disqualification from the Olympics for any doping offense but no legal penalties.

Mario Pescante, an IOC member and government supervisor of the Turin Games, has virtually abandoned his attempt to put in place a temporary suspension of Italy’s laws for the Olympics. Pescante met harsh opposition last month when he introduced such a proposal before the Italian Senate.

Late last month, IOC president Jacques Rogge expressed confidence that “intelligent solutions” will be found to prevent athletes from being arrested and that a compromise will be reached within “full respect” of the law.

“All we care about is whether or not the world anti-doping code will be applied during the games and our role as independent observers will be to say yes or no,” Pound said. “Beyond that we don’t really have a role in determining a question that is to be settled by the IOC, which is the owner of the event, and the organizing committee.”

On another issue, Pound expressed satisfaction that scientist Patrick Arnold was indicted in San Francisco earlier this month for conspiring with Bay Area Laboratory-Cooperative founder Victor Conte to illegally distribute the once-undetectable substance tetrahydragestrinone, known as THG.

“What is significant and what has been significant in all the prosecutions in the BALCO affair is that the authorities have gone after the upstream people, the suppliers, the ones encouraging the use of THG by athletes,” Pound said.

“The real message is for once the upstream folks are going to be in at least as much trouble as the athlete users.”

Arnold pleaded innocent last week.

-The Associated Press

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