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Tuesday, February 2, 1999 Published at 18:33 GMT


Olympics chief under fire

Mr Samaranch is under pressure to introduce fundamental reforms

The President of the International Olympic Committee, Juan Antonio Samaranch, has come in for severe criticism from European ministers and the US over the bribery allegations surrounding the 2002 Winter Games.

Sports Correspondent Harry Peart: "Several speakers called for the reform of the Olympic movement"
At the World Conference on doping in sport taking place at the Olympic headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, several ministers have called for Mr Samaranch to introduce radical reforms to the Olympic movement.

The American drug policy director, Barry McCaffrey, suggested that Mr Samaranch should resign following the scandal and said his failure of leadership had challenged the legitimacy of the IOC.

[ image: The conference had been called to find ways to weed out drug cheats]
The conference had been called to find ways to weed out drug cheats
Nine IOC members have resigned or been expelled for allegedly receiving inducements in return for votes in favour of awarding the 2002 games to Salt Lake City.

Speaking at the conference the UK's Minister of Sport, Tony Banks, demanded changes to the way the Olympic movement is run. "The British Government expects the IOC to clean up its act," he said in comments addressed directly at the IOC president.

Investigations 'continuing'

The BBC's Adam Mynott reports from Lausanne on the sports drugs war
The Danish Culture Minister, Elisabeth Gerner Nielson, echoed Mr Banks' calls saying the movement should become more democratic and transparent.

Opening the conference, Mr Samaranch referred to the crisis facing the IOC saying that "all the necessary measures" had been taken and investigations were "continuing to ensure that Olympic ethics are respected".

He then tried to move the focus on to the intended issue of performance enhancing drugs in sport, branding the growing problem an "odious and unhealthy form of cheating."

[ image:  ]
He said there would be a long fight ahead if the use of performance enhancing drugs in sport is to be tackled effectively.

The Olympics chief called the anti-doping conference following revelations of widespread drug use in last year's Tour de France. But now the Olympics faces its own scandal and many conference delegates said the credibility of its officials has been brought into question.

Drugs agency

Harry Peart: "IOC hoping to restore faith in sport and itself"
A key proposal is the creation of an international anti-doping agency to coordinate drug testing around the world. Mr Samaranch has been proposed as its head but questions remain about whether he can survive the fall-out from the bribery crisis.

Mr Samaranch said the agency should be run by a board of directors including Olympic officials, scientists, governmental organisations and representatives of pharmaceutical companies.

[ image: Tour de France 98: Drugs scandal prompted a cyclist's strike]
Tour de France 98: Drugs scandal prompted a cyclist's strike
Meanwhile, the outspoken head of the IOC's medical commission has accused Mr Samaranch of wasting 10 vital years in the battle against doping. Prince Alexandre de Merode told the French paper L'Equipe that he championed all the proposals now being put forward a decade ago only to have them ''shot down in flames''.

Life ban

There is also disagreement on new measures for punishing drug cheats.

BBC Sports Correspondent Adam Mynott: Everyone at the conference is talking about the bribery allegations
The IOC had demanded that any federation refusing to adopt a mandatory two-year suspension for serious drug abusers would risk removal from the Olympics. But football's governing body, Fifa, and the International Tennis Federation, fear such bans would not be enforceable.

The conference will also hear a proposal that athletes found guilty of serious offences involving steroids or other major drugs should face fines of up to $1m and a life ban.

A first intentional abuse of stimulants would result in a two-to-eight year ban and a fine of up to $100,000.

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