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Last Updated: Sunday, 19 February 2006, 14:41 GMT
Austrian anger over drugs raids
Austrian officials have protested to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) after midnight police raids and dope tests on Winter Games athletes.

Italian officers raided their biathlon and cross-country bases on Saturday.

The searches happened as Olympic officials conducted unannounced, out-of-competition, drugs tests on at least 10 Austrian athletes.

The World Anti-Doping Agency said it learned banned coach Walter Mayer was with the team and informed the IOC.

"The fact he was in the same area as the athletes created quite some concern to us," said IOC medical commission chief Arne Ljungqvist.

Austrian Olympic Committee Secretary General Heinz Jungwirth said he had personally protested to IOC president Jacques Rogge.

No test results have been announced, and the Austrian cross-country team finished last in their race on Sunday.

There's definitely no doping in the Austrian team - it's crazy
Cross-country skier Juergen Pinter
Team member Juergen Pinter said: "We were surprised in our room.

"Suddenly the police came in and didn't let us leave on the night before the competition. This happened without any positive result from doping control in the team."

In the men's 4 x 10km cross-country relay on Sunday, Austria came last after the raid left them sleepless and demoralised.

The Austrians' third skier Roland Diethart was lapped by the leader and in accordance with the rules the team had to drop out of the race, meaning fourth runner Johannes Eder did not start.

"I didn't even get to race. With 20 policemen standing in your bedroom in the middle of the night, how can you compete?" he said.

Mayer was banned from Turin and the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver after the discovery of blood transfusion equipment in his accommodation in Salt Lake City four years ago.

Ljungqvist, though, defended the raids.

Holding up an official postcard of the Austrian biathlon team which included Mayer and at the back read "2006 Olympic Games", Ljungqvist said: "This is reason enough to act."

While Mayer was not violating the ban imposed on him, Ljungqvist said by visiting the athletes he had violated the Olympic spirit.

"It is against the spirit of that decision. The fact has been respected that he has not an IOC accreditation."

An IOC statement said: "The IOC is fulfilling its responsibility to conduct anti-doping control on athletes who might have been under his (Mayer's) influence."

They've been playing with fire in having an association with this guy
Dick Pound, World Anti-Doping Agency chairman on Mayer

Erich Wagner, a spokesman for the Austrian Ski Federation, admitted Mayer was at the Games.

"Mayer was here privately as a spectator and he visited the boys," he said.

Doping violations carry tough sentences under Italian law with offenders facing sentences up to three years in prison.

The Italian government introduced strict doping laws before it won the right to host the 2006 Games and has refused to relax them to correspond with IOC rules.

No Austrians have won medals in biathlon or cross-country in Turin so far, the highest finish in either being Wolfgang Perner's fourth place in the men's biathlon 10km sprint.

Russian biathlon star Olga Pyleva was stripped of a silver medal and expelled on Thursday after testing positive for the stimulant carphedon.


Banned skier begs for forgiveness
17 Feb 06 |  Winter Olympics
Russian athlete stripped of medal
16 Feb 06 |  Winter Olympics
Pound suspects skiers were doping
16 Feb 06 |  Winter Olympics

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