Correction to This Article
A Feb. 7 Sports article incorrectly said that athletes use hyperbaric chambers to build endurance. Hypobaric chambers are used for that purpose.
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Italian Authorities Still Plan to Prosecute Substance Abuse Cases

Large Olympic rings were seen on the roof of the athletes' village in Sestriere, Italy, as the week winds toward Friday's Opening Ceremonies. About 1,200 random and in-competition drug tests will be conducted on the 2,500 competitors.
Large Olympic rings were seen on the roof of the athletes' village in Sestriere, Italy, as the week winds toward Friday's Opening Ceremonies. About 1,200 random and in-competition drug tests will be conducted on the 2,500 competitors. (By Kevin Frayer -- Associated Press)

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By Amy Shipley and Liz Clarke
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, February 7, 2006

TURIN, Italy, Feb. 6 -- Athletes who test positive for banned substances during the Winter Games will be subject to criminal proceedings in Italian court, but the nation's police will not conduct random searches for drugs in the athletes' village, an Italian government official said Monday.

Despite months of pleas for a moratorium on the enforcement of Italy's strict anti-doping laws during the Olympics from sports officials, Italian legislators have insisted that the laws remain in place, meaning athletes could face penalties beyond bans from their sports if they test positive.

"In Italy, we have very strict anti-doping laws," said International Olympic Committee member Mario Pescante, also the Olympics' government supervisor who led negotiations on the issue. "If any athlete is positive, in that case the Italian court will intervene. No exceptions."

The Italian government, however, agreed to allow the IOC to conduct the drug-testing operations, as it does at every Olympic Games, with the World Anti-Doping Agency assisting. Some 1,200 random and in-competition tests will be conducted on the 2,500 competitors.

Pescante added that police will not conduct random searches in attempts to sniff out drugs. The IOC has said it would welcome searches but only if police had evidence or strong reason to believe drugs were available on the Olympic campus.

Athletes who test positive would be unlikely to face jail time, though Italian law offers a maximum two-year penalty, Pescante said.

Pescante added that hyperbaric or oxygen chambers, common among athletes seeking to build endurance, would be banned only from the Olympic Village. Such chambers are illegal under Italian law.

Lodwick Waxes Eloquently

Todd Lodwick collapsed in a heap after completing his frenzied leg of the 15-kilometer cross-country race in the Nordic combined team competition at the 2002 Olympics. And when the results were posted, confirming the fact that the Germans had vaulted past the United States to win the bronze medal, Lodwick, who was barely conscious and still sucking oxygen, huddled with his three American teammates and wept.

"We had a medal ripped away from us," Lodwick said Monday, after arriving in Turin for his fourth and final Games. "It's a little bit of payback time."

Though four years have passed since the United States finished a distant fourth at Salt Lake City, Lodwick, 29, refuses to discuss the heart-wrenching day. "It wasn't the athletes' fault" is all he had to say about it, declining to elaborate. "I was bitter about it for two years."

His teammate Bill Demong, 25, is more forthcoming.

No American had ever won an Olympic medal in Nordic combined, but with Lodwick and Demong anchoring the 2002 team, there was reason to believe that drought would end. The United States stood in third after the ski-jumping portion of the event, which was held the first day. Demong recalls the team going to bed that night confident they'd end up on the podium after the 15km cross-country race, with either bronze or silver medals dangling from their necks.


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© 2006 The Washington Post Company

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