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Salzburg Bid Falls Victim to Doping Scandal
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The doping scandal that has embroiled the Austrian Olympic team at the Olympics, risks creating another victim - the Salzburg 2014 Winter Games bid.

The bidding team has been driven into "damage limitation mode" as the scandal threatens to run long after the Games finish here on Sunday.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge has promised to set up an inquiry after Turin to fully examine what was going on within the Austrian camp.

The inclusion in the team of shamed coach Walter Mayer has infuriated Rogge and other members of the IOC.

If it was a simple case of doping and athletes being thrown out of the Games the damage to Salzburg would be minimal, but with an IOC inquiry that is likely to be in the news for the next few months the harm done to the bid could be more severe.

Dick Pound, president of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) which along with the police swooped on the Austrians last Saturday, was astounded that the team brought Mayer to Turin.

"It is a provocation. The guy has been banned until 2010 and they are saying 'He's still here and we love him,'" said Pound.

And he admits Salzburg 2014 has been wounded.

"They've got 16 months to respond. But they've taken a hit," said the WADA boss and senior IOC member.

The damage limitation began almost immediately when Austrian chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel was able to turn a pre-planned meeting with Rogge into a declaration of Austrian support for the IOC in the fight against doping.

"Our primary objectives were two-fold," said Schuessel. "First of all, I wanted president Rogge to know that Austria has not and will never waver in its full support of the IOCs policies and regulations on drugs and doping.

"Secondly, I wanted to emphasize the strength of the commitment to the Salzburg 2014 winter bid of all levels of Austrian Government.

"I also wanted president Rogge to know how much we admire the Olympic Movement and how important its work of friendship and peace through sport is in our world today."

Despite the intense atmosphere generated by the Italian police raid, Schuessel insisted that the tone of the meeting was cordial.

"I was very open with president Rogge," the Chancellor said. "I clearly expressed how infuriated I was over the presence of Walter Mayer in Torino.

"I assured Dr Rogge that as Minister of Sport, I would give my full backing to the Austrian Olympic Committee's inquiry into the Torino crisis and that we would clean house once the facts were on the table."

It is this "cleaning house" that could be the key to Salzburg's survival in the race for 2014 that includes Pyongchang (South Korea), Sochi (Russia), Sofia, Jaca (Spain), Almaty (Kazakhstan) and Borjomi (Georgia).

Sources close to Salzburg 2014 have told AFP that Peter Schroecknadel, president of the Austrian Ski Federation may be forced out of his position as vice-president of the Austrian Olympic Committee (AOC).

(China Daily February 24, 2006)

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