As the Winter Olympics kicks off in Turin later today, news was released that some athletes have tested positive for doping offences.
So much for the concept of competing for competing's sake!
Giovanni Zotta, the Italian representative on the International Olympic Committee's anti-doping commission, said that preliminary tests had found the banned substance Erythropoietin (EPO) in several athletes.
"So far there have been cases of EPO haematocrit in several athletes but it must be confirmed."
The International Ski Federation (FIS) had banned eight Nordic skiers for five days, after tests showed they had an abnormally high red blood cell count (a possible indication of EPO use).
"This morning we will be checking (the cases). Shortly we will be having a meeting on the results."
This incident is particularly galling for the IOC, as it had only recently convinced/strongarmed the Italian government to relax its strict anti drugs laws. Under the normal laws, applied to non Olympiads, people found to have been taking drugs (even sports enhancing drugs) are liable to a prison sentence.
Needless to say, the IOC couldn't face the loss of sponsorship revenues that prison sentences on its athletes would have brought, so it dragooned the Italian government into relaxing the law for Olympic athletes.
Dick Pound, the head of the World Anti-doping Agency, said:
"The (Torino) Games are not an Italian event. They are an international one. But I think it will work out."
In other words, Olympic athletes are above the law!
This two faced approach to drugs sends out the wrong message; Kate Moss was vilified recently for alleged cocaine use, yet the IOC seem to be saying that drugs (if used to win a competition) are OK.
That is wrong!