Italy resists call to ease doping laws - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Italy resists call to ease doping laws

20/10/2005 05:58:08 AM Comments (0)

Italy's international image is being damaged because of the government's refusal to ease strict laws on doping for the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, sports supremo Mario Pescante said.

Pescante has been lobbying to try to relax Italian legislation to bring it into line with the rules of the International Olympic Committee and respect a commitment made to the IOC when Italy was awarded the games.

But Pescante, extraordinary commissioner for the Turin Games and a junior culture minister with responsibility for sport, was forced to acknowledge that he had failed to win the argument.

"It's clear at this point ... that parliament doesn't want to change the law," he told a Senate hearing. "Even if there are no material consequences there certainly will be for the image of our country."

Under an Italian law adopted in 2000, doping is a criminal offence, and under some circumstances can be punishable by prison.

Under the regulations of the World Anti-Doping Agency and IOC the only punishment for athletes who fail tests is to strip them of any medals they have won and throw them out of the Olympic Village.

Athletes are then banned by their sport's governing body.

Health Minister Francesco Storace and Deputy Prime Minister Gianfranco Fini, both from the right-wing National Alliance party, rejected Pescante's lobbying to have the law changed at least for the duration of the Olympics, which begin on February 10.

"What happens now, I haven't the slightest idea," Pescante said, adding that he would discuss the matter directly with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

The IOC fears that under Italian law, athletes could be subjected to police raids against doping suspects and risk ending up in prison if found guilty of breaking local norms.

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