Athletes warning over 2012 drug tests

Athletes’ representatives have warned that random drugs searches in the Olympic Village at London 2012 would be ‘utterly disasterous’.

British Olympic Association chairman Colin Moynihan has proposed a new bill in the House of Lords to strengthen anti-doping measures by increasing the police’s search powers and allowing them to enter the athletes’ village.

However, the British Athletes Commission are against random searches. Chief executive Peter Gardner wants reassurances that ‘stop and search’ tactics will not be used on Olympic athletes at random and will raise the issue at a meeting with BOA chief executive Andy Hunt this week.

Gardner said: ‘If this bill gets through we want to know how exactly would they go about exercising the new powers. ‘We do not want to see random ‘stop and search’ in the Village – that would be utterly disastrous for the London Olympics.

‘It’s one thing for us to be seen to be taking a tough stance on doping, but it’s quite another to make athletes feel like criminals. ‘If there is a good reason for a search based on intelligence then fine, but we don’t want to see random searches.’

Gardner added that he thought it extremely unlikely that anyone would risk taking performance-enhancing drugs into the Village – those that would be using drugs were more likely to do so in privately-rented accommodation.

‘There is nothing wrong in having a deterrent but the likelihood of anything being in the Village is almost non-existent and as long as we realise that and target our anti-doping efforts in the best places then that is fine.’

Lord Moynihan said: ‘At the moment, police do not have the ability to search unless it is for prohibited substances, like heroin, and not performance-enhancing drugs.

‘This proposal will enable them to also target performance-enhancing drugs so that would cover all the drugs on the Wada (World Anti-Doping Agency) list. ‘It would mean that if someone was blood doping at the Olympic Village in 2012 the police would have the right under law to search the premises under a warrant.

‘It is not that uncommon in Olympic Games. It has happened at the Winter Olympics. If athletes know that could happen we are going to deter people from cheating and doing themselves harm. It is important that it should be on the statute book.’

Lord Moynihan is also calling for international cooperation on intelligence gathering to be made a priority. It could allow the International Olympic Committee and other relevant sporting bodies to access information unearthed by the police.

Lord Moynihan is aiming for the Bill to become law by July 2011 and will probably introduce it in February. The pending general election will see its progress halted but Lord Moynihan intends to reintroduce it in the next Parliament.

He added: ‘I think that hosting the next Olympic and Paralympic Games allows us to focus on the whole issue of anti-doping in sport, perhaps more so than has been done before. ‘I do not believe the Bill will be contentious but the debates around it will be non-partisan, first rate and interesting.’

Source: Sport Industry Group

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