Austria fined $1M in doping scandal
GENEVA ” The Austrian Olympic Committee was fined $1 million by the IOC on Thursday in connection with the doping scandal at the 2006 Winter Games in Turin.
The Lausanne-based International Olympic Committee said its executive board unanimously decided on the penalty, which will be imposed by withholding from the Austrian committee its share of IOC revenues up to that amount.
The AOC could have been suspended, effectively excluding Austrian athletes from competing at the upcoming Olympics.
After issuing lifetime Olympic bans to six Austrian cross-country skies and biathletes last month, the IOC found the Austrian committee accountable for the conduct of its ski federation and the violation of anti-doping rules by its athletes and support staff at the Turin Olympics.
The AOC also was held responsible for the participation of former Austrian coach Walter Mayer, who was banned from the Turin Olympics after being implicated in blood-doping at the Salt Lake City Games. The IOC said the Austrian committee failed to implement the necessary changes to prevent a repeat of the problems from 2002.
The IOC gave the Austrian committee a year to complete its investigation into the role played by the national Olympic body, team coaches, doctors and officials.
The Austrian committee must report on its investigation by June 30, 2008, and demonstrate “the internal organizational changes that have been implemented,” the IOC said, without elaborating on what changes it expected to be carried out.
The $1 million fine will be invested in anti-doping programs, the IOC said.
The IOC said it will refer the case file to the International Ski Federation and the International Biathlon Union so that they can decide whether to take separate action against the Austrian Ski Federation.
The action comes just six weeks before the IOC selects the host city for the 2014 Winter Olympics. An Austrian city, Salzburg, is competing against Sochi, Russia, and Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Salzburg Mayor Heinz Schaden acknowledged the doping scandal was not helpful for his city’s bid.
“The IOC is losing its patience,” Schaden said. “The bid is not dead.”
Austrian Olympic Committee president Leo Wallner accused the Austrian Ski Federation of a “serious failure.” Wallner said the scandal could have knocked Austrian athletes out of at least the 2008 Summer Games and the 2010 Winter Olympics.
The federation “compromised the Olympic spirit,” he said, adding that the Austrian Olympic Committee would take disciplinary measures against the ski body for putting “an entire generation of athletes” at risk.
Wallner said one measure might require all federation athletes and officials to swear to uphold the values and ethics of the Olympic movement.
Officials in charge of Austria’s cross-country ski and biathlon teams also could be banned for life from the Olympics, and the ski federation could wind up having to pay the fine imposed Thursday, Wallner said. He said those and other measures would be decided at a meeting next Tuesday.
Heinz Jungwirth, AOC general secretary, said Wednesday the board members would vote on whether to remove Austrian ski federation chief Peter Schroecksnadel of his duties as AOC vice president.
The IOC decision comes a month after it issued lifetime Olympic bans to cross-country skiers Martin Tauber, Juergen Pinter, Johannes Eder and Roland Diethart, and biathletes Wolfgang Perner and Wolfgang Rottmann.
The four cross-country skiers have appealed their bans to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The two biathletes have retired from the sport.
Italian police raided Austrian team lodgings outside Turin on Feb. 18, 2006, seizing a large amount of doping products and equipment. The move followed a tip that Mayer was in the area. He fled Italy and crashed his car into a police roadblock across the Austrian border.
In tandem with the police action, Olympic drug-testers conducted surprise doping checks on 10 Austrian athletes. The tests came back negative, but the IOC continued its investigation based on the police findings.
The Italian report, handed over to the IOC early this year, said police found syringes, needles, blood bags, butterfly valves for intravenous use, bottles of saline and devices for measuring hemoglobin levels and determining blood groups, as well as the banned substances hCG and albumin.
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