Monday, July 27, 1998 Published at 15:27 GMT 16:27 UK
Drugs stance stirs outrage
Samaranch wants 'harmless' drugs allowed
British athletics chiefs have condemned the call by the Olympic boss Juan Antonio Samaranch to slash the list of banned doping products.
The International Olympic Committee chairman told the Spanish newspaper El Mundo that substances that do not damage an athlete's health should not be prohibited.
He denied that the IOC had considered legalising doping but said "the actual list of (banned) products must be reduced drastically".
He added: "Doping (now) is everything that, firstly, is harmful to an athlete's health and, secondly, artificially augments his performance.
"If it's just the second case, for me that's not doping. If it's the first case, it is."
The IOC will convene a conference on doping in January but Samaranch said it was not in a position to impose a change.
British 'fight against drugs'
The British Olympic Association chief executive Simon Clegg said the comments were against the BOA's current thinking.
He said: "The BOA feels very strongly and has been one of the main bodies in this fight against drugs.
"It is BOA policy that any athlete who has proved positive for a performance-enhancing drug with the IOC is ineligible to represent Great Britain at any time in the future."
Former British world record holder Steve Ovett also criticised Samaranch's view.
He said Samaranch wanted to "throw in the towel" in the fight against drugs.
"How do you define dangerous?" said Ovett. "Is it when someone keels over and dies?"
The head of British athletics, David Moorcroft, said: "As soon as we give in to the notion that anything goes then the concept of fair competition has no meaning."
Tour bosses welcome call
The argument comes amid the growing drugs scandal in the Tour de France, where the Festina team has been banned after its director admitted the team had been supplied with banned substances.
But the directors of Spain's top two cycling teams welcomed Samaranch's call for the further legalisation.
The Banesto team director Eusebio Unzue said: "I'm completely in agreement with Saramanch.
"It's very important because our sport needs to recapture its long-held good image.
"His comments are extremely important and we have to take advantage of them."
The Once director Manolo Saiz said: "I think these were good words from Saramanch, to set us on a good course in professional sport."
Samaranch said that although the Tour de France episode was particularly embarrassing, the overall situation was fairly healthy.
He said: "The ones to blame are not the athletes but those around them."
However Samaranch decided at the recent Winter Olympics that marijuana would stay on the banned list as a matter of "ethics and principle".
He spoke out after arguments over the fate of Canadian snowboarder Ross Rebagliati.
Drugs 'rife' in athletics
Meanwhile leading British distance runner Jon Brown says use of the banned drug EPO is as "rife" in his sport as it is in cycling.
The 1996 European cross-country champion said EPO, which increases the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood by increasing red blood cells, was endemic among European distance runners.
He told The Times newspaper: "Two years ago (it) was virtually non-existent in distance running but I think now you have got some main players operating on the stuff.
"Once you go down that road - the same as cycling - sport is not real sport and the barriers are unlimited."
He added: "Soon there is going to be no way anybody is going to beat these characters without playing their game."