NewsSanctions Said to Await Austrian Olympic Committee

FasterSkier FasterSkierMay 11, 2007

From the US Olympic Committee's “Around The Rings” newsletter:

Sanctions Said to Await Austrian Olympic Committee
Around the Rings
05/09/2007

(ATR) An Austrian newspaper reports that the IOC is ready to issue severe sanctions against the Austrian Olympic Committee over a blood doping scandal at the Turin Olympics. The case may have grown more difficult with the naming of four athletes involved in that scandal to the Austrian cross country team for the upcoming season.

Österreich Zeitung quotes an IOC source as saying the degree of punishment sought by an IOC Disciplinary Commission could be determined by whether the Austrian committee is able to quickly take action with its own disciplinary panel.

Austria faces a range of possible sanctions — from the whole team being banned from the 2010 Olympics to a more likely scenario: a ban on biathlon and cross country sports, the ones involved in the Turin scandal.

Although a leader of the Austrian Olympic Committee says the scandal won’t impact the Salzburg bid for the 2014 Olympics, the AOC troubles come at a bad time for the bid. The IOC vote is less than eight weeks away.

Six athletes from Turin have been banned for life from the Olympics over their complicity in what the IOC says was blood doping.

Four of those athletes are included on the list of nominees for the Austrian cross country team for the upcoming winter season, a development the newspaper says has alarmed the IOC commission.

An official with the Austrian Ski Federation downplays the nominations, telling Around the Rings that it’s just the first step in team selection. He says the squad will need final approval from the federation.

The Austrian Olympic Committee had already been warned over blood doping from Salt Lake City. That makes the Turin affair a second offense, a fact not lost on the IOC commission.

In a hearing by the commission last week in Lausanne, NOC secretary general Heinz Jungwirth says he was
Austrian Olympic Committee secretary general Heinz Jungwirth. (ATR)
advised that the NOC would have to take action over the scandal to avoid serious repercussions.

Speaking on Wednesday to an ATR correspondent, Jungwirth reiterated his comments from last week.

“The Austrian Olympic Committee has to do whatever is necessary to fight doping.

“We have done a lot. Parliament has passed an anti-doping law. We have signed the UNESCO convention on doping.”

Jungwirth says it will be at least next week before the AOC inquiry into the Turin scandal will begin work again. The commission was named last year but has languished until evidence from Italian prosecutors became available only this year.

Panel chairman Dieter Kalt will not return from the hockey world championships in Moscow until the tournament ends on Sunday.

Stefan Netzle, a lawyer with expertise before the Court of Arbitration for Sport, is the second member of the panel. He’ll have to travel from Switzerland.

Whether there will be a third member isn’t certain.

Jungwirth says Franz Klammer, the third member of the AOC commission when it was named last year, won’t be continuing. Klammer is now involved with the Salzburg bid as international director.

Jungwirth said at the time Klammer was selected to provide an athlete perspective. With the banishment of the six athletes, Jungwirth says the inquiry has now moved on to the NOC and Austrian Ski Federation.

In comments to Around the Rings, Klaus Leistner, secretary general of the Austrian Ski Federation, says he believes the scandal from Turin is an Olympic case, the problem of the NOC.

Neither the ski federation nor its president, Peter Schroecksnadel are responsible, says Leistner.

With reporting from Germany by Peter Kreuzer.

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