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  • Austrian Olympic Committee Forced Into Action


    05/24/07

    Police and drug control officers raided private living quarters of the Austrian ski team during the Turin Olympics.  
     (ATR) The president of the Austrian Olympic Committee says an emergency meeting is planned next week to begin responding to harsh sanctions imposed by the IOC over a blood doping scandal at the Turin Olympics.

    The AOC has been fined $1 million over its role in the scandal, the most severe ever handed to a national Olympic committee over a dopinf offense. Six Austrian athletes who competed in biathlon and cross country skiing have already been banned for life from the Olympics as a result.

    “The Olympic Movement has suffered considerable prejudice as a result of the events,” notes the IOC about the Turin scandal in a 14-page announcement.

    The fine will be paid with the money the AOC is due to receive in the coming years from Olympic Solidarity, the fund that derives its income from the TV rights fees for the Olympics and then is distributed to the 203 national Olympic committees.  The IOC says the money that was to go to Austria will be applied to anti-doping efforts.

    The AOC says it will seek to recover the $1 million from the Austrian Ski Federation, whose leaders are now in the firing line. As part of the sanctions against the Austrian committee, the IOC wants a house cleaning at the ski federation, including President Peter Schroeksnadel, who is also a vice president of the AOC.

    AOC President Leo Wallner says that the AOC next week will seek to remove Schroeksnadel from the post he holds with the committee. The IOC is also expecting the Austrian Olympic Committee to exercise its powers to strip Schroeksnadel and colleagues from their offices at the ski federation. The International Ski Federation and International Biathlon Union have been asked to pursue the case as well.

    The IOC has given the AOC a June 30, 2008 deadline to make changes. While not stated in the IOC findings, it is believed that if the IOC is not satisfied with the changes by the deadline, Austria could be banned from the Olympics for a number of Games, including the 2014 Winter Olympics, for which Salzburg is one of the candidates.

    The

    Austrian Olympic Committee President Leo Wallner is under pressure from the IOC to make changes. (ATR)  
    sanctions come at an awkward time, the final weeks of the campaign for Salzburg. PyeongChang, South Korea and Sochi, Russia are the other two cities in the race. The IOC votes on July 4.

    Wallner says Austria averted an immediate ban from the Olympics by detailing steps that have been taken in Austria already: enactment of a new anti-doping law and the formation of a commission to act on the Turin scandal, for example.

    But those were not enough to offset a series of aggravating circumstances listed by the IOC, not the least of which was a repeat of blood doping charges in Turin. The IOC had issued a warning to the AOC in 2002 following the Salt Lake City Olympics when blood bags were found in private homes used by the Austrian team.

    The IOC was shocked to learn earlier this month that four of the skiers who had just been banned for life from the Olympics were included on the Austrian national team for the upcoming season. Those skiers have filed an appeal of their Olympic ban to the Court for Arbitration of Sport.

    Schroelsnadel is cited for failing to inform the Austrian Olympic Committee that members of the Austrian ski team were unavailable when drug testing officers came calling 10 days before the Turin Olympics.

    The Austrian Olympic Committee is blasted by the IOC for failing to monitor the activities of its athletes who lived in private accommodation outside the Olympic Village. The list of evidence seized in the raid on those living quarters is a grim inventory of bloodied cloth, syringes, blood bags, medicines and equipment.

    The IOC also took the AOC to task for overlooking numerous public indications that Walter Mayer was assisting the team as a coach, despite his ban from the Olympics through 2010. Mayer was one of the individuals charged in the 2002 Salt Lake City blood doping case.

    The IOC report says the three-member disciplinary commission which conducted a review of the case will remain in place to examine other evidence. German IOC member and vice president Thomas Bach chairs the panel; Denis Oswald of Switzerland and Sergey Bubka of Ukraine are the other members.

    The commission met earlier this month to hear testimony from the AOC and the Austrian Ski Federation before rendering the recommendation released today. The report of the Bach commission was adopted unanimously by the IOC Executive Board in a ballot conducted by post.

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