Italian police have no plans to raid the Olympic village in search of banned substances, but athletes who test positive will be sent to court under Italy's criminal anti-doping laws.
"Police will not enter the village," Mario Pescante, a senior IOC member and Italian government official, said Monday. "This is not going to happen."
The prospect of police raids on the village and athletes being led away in handcuffs has been a major issue in the leadup to the games, which open Friday.
Pescante was referring to random searches. The IOC has said it would not object if police, acting on a tip-off, went into the village to arrest any athletes or coaches trafficking in banned substances.
Pescante tried unsuccessfully to get the Italian Parliament to suspend the anti-doping laws for the period of the Olympics. Legislators contended that such a move would show weakness.
The IOC, which opposes criminal sanctions for drug use, accepted the Italian law. In return, the Italians agreed to let the IOC and World-Anti Doping Agency run the drug-testing program during the games.
"In October I predicted intelligent solutions would be found, and I believe intelligent solutions were found," IOC president Jacques Rogge said Monday. "The law is not an obstacle to a very good doping control. The IOC will have full control of the testing."
Doping carries a maximum two-year term under Italian law. However, few athletes have ever gone to jail, and Pescante said offenders would more likely face "administrative sanctions" from the courts.
"If an athlete tests positive, the Italian court will intervene," he said. "There is no exception. Everybody, no matter from which country, will be submitted to the Italian law."
Rogge said the decision to accept the Italian legislation did not represent a retreat in the IOC's control over the games.
"We need collaboration with governments," he said. "We are the best for checking doping of athletes, but not the best in cracking down on drug rings. We need governments for that."
The IOC plans to conduct 1,200 drug tests during the games, a 71 percent increase over the number in Salt Lake City four years ago. Under IOC rules, an athlete who tests positive faces disqualification and expulsion from the games.
Pescante also said a compromise was reached on the issue of hyperbaric chambers, which are used by athletes to replicate high altitude
(AP via China Daily February 8, 2006)