Austrian ski federation bans 14 officials for life after Turin doping scandal
VIENNA, Austria -- The Austrian Olympic Committee imposed lifetime Olympic bans Tuesday on 14 team officials linked to the blood doping scandal at the 2006 Turin Games.
The 14 would be denied accreditation for all Olympics, and any Austrians found guilty of a doping offense in the future will be banned for life from the Olympics, AOC president Leo Wallner said at a news conference after a special executive board session.
Also, the chief of Austria's ski federation Peter Schroecksnadel resigned as vice president of the AOC, saying he hoped his departure would help Salzburg's bid for the 2014 Winter Games. Schroecksnadel said he will not step down as head of the ski federation.
Salzburg is competing against Sochi, Russia, and Pyeongchang, South Korea, for the 2014 games. The IOC will select the host city on July 4 in Guatemala City.
"I want to repeat that the IOC sentenced individuals and not federations, and therefore I am convinced that the doping case does not stand in any way against the 2014 Olympic bid in Salzburg," Wallner said.
Last month, the IOC banned six Austrian cross-country skiers and biathletes for life from the Olympics for their role in the Turin case.
The highest-ranking administrator banned was Markus Gandler, the sports director for the cross-country and biathlon teams.
The sanction also covers Walter Mayer, the former Nordic coach who had banned by the IOC from two Olympics after a blood doping case at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games.
Mayer's unauthorized presence with the team at the 2006 Olympics prompted a raid by Italian police on the Austrian athletes' living quarters. Authorities seized large amounts of doping products and equipment, while Mayer fled the scene and crashed his car into a police roadblock across the Austrian border.
Among others banned by the AOC on Tuesday were team doctor Peter Baumgartl and physiotherapist Volker Mueller.
Mueller, like Mayer, was banned from two Olympics after the Salt Lake City case. Baumgartl received a "strong warning" from the International Olympic Committee in the 2002 affair.
The others banned, all attached to the cross-country and biathlon teams, were: Alfred Eder, Walter Gapp, Walter Hoerl, Heinz Muehlbacher, Stefan Rohrmoser, Emil Hoch, Andreas Eder, Gerald Heigl, Reinhard Neuner and Gerhard Urain.
Wallner said the AOC took action against the team officials because banned equipment was found in their living quarters. The decision was made whether they were directly involved in doping or not.
"We want to participate in international games and we reserve the right to decide whom we accredit and whom we don't," Wallner said.
Heinz Jungwirth, the AOC's secretary-general, said the men were all housed outside the athletes' village but were officially accredited through the Olympic committee.
"It was therefore our responsibility," Jungwirth said.
Wallner acknowledged that the AOC "did not take the steps to control the situation outside the Olympic Village," adding that in the future the AOC would "inevitably have to take stricter measures" in dealing with its member federations.
Last week, the IOC issued a $1 million fine on the AOC for failing to prevent the scandal in Turin.
The AOC said Tuesday that the money would be transferred to its account by the Austrian ski federation and then given to the IOC for anti-doping programs.
Wallner ordered the ski federation to clean its house by the IOC's deadline of June 30, 2008.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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