Road Bike, Cycling Forums banner

1 - 1 of 1 Posts

Soon to be banned
14,475 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
and you thought these games were boring...

Ok, maybe not Bond... Interesting none the less.

VIENNA, Austria (AP) -- The banned Austrian ski coach at the center of a doping investigation at the Turin Olympics crashed his car into a police roadblock Sunday evening after leading authorities on a bizarre chase.

Walter Mayer was slightly injured in the accident, in which he struck an unoccupied police car set up as an impromptu barrier in the town of Paternion in the southwestern province of Carinthia, about 15 miles from the Italian frontier and some 250 miles from Turin, police said. He was taken into protective custody.

Mayer was returning to his native Austria just hours after Italian authorities searched Austria's biathlon and cross-country team quarters for banned substances. Police acted on a tipoff that Mayer -- who was accused of blood doping at the 2002 Olympics while he was Austria's Nordic team coach -- was with the team.

Italian police seized blood analysis equipment during the raids, as well as syringes, vials of distilled water, asthma medication and other substances, the national news agency ANSA reported, quoting unidentified investigative sources. One Austrian athlete threw a bag out of a window containing needles and medicines, and Mayer apparently left the scene in a minivan, ANSA said.

The chain of events in Austria started when Mayer pulled over to the side of the road and took a nap in his car, a police statement said.

A suspicious local resident alerted police that a man was sleeping in a car with the engine turned off, and when officers arrived on the scene to wake him up, Mayer sped away, striking and slightly injuring an officer, the statement said.

The officers on the scene then called for backup, and authorities parked an empty police vehicle across the highway as a roadblock. Mayer slammed into the squad car, totaling both vehicles.

Police said Mayer refused to take a blood-alcohol test, which an officer requested after Mayer showed signs of intoxication.

It was unclear whether he would face criminal charges, and authorities declined to say whether they searched his vehicle for doping substances or equipment. Mayer's driver's license was provisionally suspended.

The Austrian Ski Federation said Sunday night it had ended its relationship with Mayer, effective immediately. In a brief statement, federation president Peter Schroecksnadel cited the accident as the reason. He did not elaborate.

In the first ever doping raid by police on Olympic athletes, Italian authorities said they seized materials in the search on the Austrians' private lodgings. Six skiers and four biathletes were rousted and taken for out-of-competition tests by the International Olympic Committee, hours before some were due to compete.

No one has been arrested, and test results of seized materials were pending.

"To be completely frank, I find it infuriating that someone like Walter Mayer shows up here," Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel said from Sestriere in an interview with state broadcaster ORF Sunday evening.

"Dozens of Austrian athletes have been preparing for their whole lives to reach this summit, and then something like this happens," he said.

Mayer and Volker Mueller, the German chiropractor who prescribed blood treatments in 2002, were banned by the IOC from the Turin Olympics and the 2010 Vancouver Games.

WADA doping control officers went to the Austrian cross-country training camp in Ramsau last month and found similar doping equipment, WADA and IOC officials said.

WADA then learned that Mayer -- who was not accredited for the games -- was with the team at the Turin Games and notified the IOC, which tipped off Italian police.

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

The Italian national news agency ANSA quoted unidentified judicial sources as saying Mayer had been put under investigation by magistrates on suspicion of encouraging the use of banned substances.

Austrian officials said Mayer had been in Italy in a private capacity and had no official connection with the team. Biathlon coach Alfred Eder confirmed that Mayer spent the night in the athletes' accommodations, but only the night after he arrived.

At a news conference, Ljungqvist held up a postcard showing Mayer in an Austrian Olympic biathlon team photo. He said that while Mayer's presence in Italy didn't break the IOC ban, it violated the "spirit" of the decision to keep him out of the games.

The involvement of police is in line with Italian law, which treats doping as a criminal offense. Any doping case would be investigated and prosecuted by Italian magistrates.

The raids came just before midnight Saturday, when police swarmed a home rented by the biathlon team near the mountain hamlet of San Sicario; a similar search was conducted at quarters in nearby Pragelato. The athletes were taken by IOC doping control officers to nearby Sestriere for tests.

Officers "confiscated material of various origin ... which will have to undergo laboratory analysis," Col. Angelo Agovino, commander of the Carabinieri police force in Turin, said. He did not elaborate.

Heinz Jungwirth, general secretary of the Austrian Olympic Committee, said "certain medicines" were confiscated.

Carabinieri in Turin refused to confirm the reports. No one answered calls at the prosecutor's office, and an Associated Press reporter attempting to enter the building was told to return Monday.

The Austrian cross-country relay team competed Sunday morning in the men's 4x10km relay, finishing last out of 16 teams.

Two biathletes -- Wolfgang Perner and Wolfgang Rottmann -- were kicked off the team after leaving the Olympics following Saturday's raids, Jungwirth told Austrian media. Both had finished their events on Saturday and weren't scheduled to compete again.
1 - 1 of 1 Posts