COPENHAGEN -- Countries could be barred from hosting the Olympics, starting with the 2018 games, if they don't have laws that empower police to raid and investigate those suspected of helping athletes use performance-enhancing drugs.
The value of such police powers was driven home to the International Olympic Committee by the 2006 Turin games. Italian police, acting on information from the IOC, raided the Austrian cross-country and biathlon team lodgings and seized a large amount of doping products and equipment.
"If we don't have the help of the police, we'll never be able to search a room, to search luggage, because we cannot issue a warrant, police can. We cannot touch mobile phones that are very useful in these kinds of issues," IOC president Jacques Rogge said Monday.
"What we want is that police could help us in cracking down on doping rings and networks."
Rogge has asked Arne Ljungqvist, chairman of the IOC's medical commission, to prepare a formal proposal that would make such laws a requirement for bid cities.
"We'll discuss this in the executive board, but I hope that it most likely will be in place for 2018," said Rogge. "I'm totally in favor."
In an interview with The Associated Press, Ljungqvist said that for the Turin Olympics, the IOC received intelligence "that something suspicious might be going on" with the Austrians but couldn't act on it because "we have no authority to make a raid." So it passed the information to Italian police, "and they came back to us and said 'Yes, this looks serious and we will make a raid.' "
Drug tests on the athletes came back negative, but the raid netted what Ljungqvist called "a hematological laboratory, more or less, with all sorts of equipment and substances."
"This was a very significant experience," Ljungqvist said. "The whole story would have remained unknown to everyone had the Italian law not been in place and had we not shared the information between ourselves."
"It would be dramatically negative for the host country if something happens, or if suspicions happen, that cannot be pursued. It would look very bad," he added. "They have to have the law in place that supports their police authorities to do it ... because this will happen again."
British Olympic Association chairman Colin Moynihan told the AP he intends to introduce tougher, draft legislation into Britain's parliament.
Currently, British police cannot raid people's homes for "a wide range of drugs" that are banned for athletes.
"With the IOC giving such a strong steer of the importance of criminalizing the supply chain, we should bring this to parliament and discuss it in parliament, and so that is my intention," said Moynihan, a member of parliament's House of Lords.
"I would hope that by 2012 we did have world leading, state of the art legislation in place, particularly focused on the criminalization of the supply chain of drugs to athletes," he said.