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Thursday, 28 February, 2002, 18:59 GMT

IOC investigates Austrian team

An investigation has been launched by the International Olympic Committee after blood transfusion equipment was found in a house used by the Austrian Winter Olympics team.

The equipment was found by a housekeeper in the house in Salt Lake City, it was announced in an IOC statement on Thursday.

However an Austrian official played down the finding.

"It's not a big deal," said Walter Mayer, director of Austria's nordic skiing federation.

"We need different equipment for various therapies - the things found had nothing to do with illegal substances," he said.

The IOC said that it would investigate whether the equipment had been used to enhance the performance of cross country skiers.

"Conducting blood transfusions to enhance performance is not only unethical and prohibited by the Olympic Movement anti-doping code, but is also extremely dangerous to the health of the athlete," read the statement.

IOC President Jacques Rogge has pledged a massive crackdown on drug offenders, the statement continued.

He has ordered that "all scientific techniques" be used in the investigation, "including DNA testing to determine who was involved in these practices," it said.

According to reports from the IOC, the owner of the house was injured by the material when she handled it.

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