Dope Raids Come Up Empty

The chalet in San Sicario, Italy, in which the Austrian biathlon and cross country staff are staying. Italian authorities searched for banned substances late 18 February but found no evidence of doping in overnight raids. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) also conducted unannounced, out-of-competition drug tests on 10 Austrian athletes -- six cross country skiers and four biathletes. AFP PHOTO DDP/MICHAEL KAPPELER (Photo credit should read MICHAEL KAPPELER/AFP/Getty Images)
AFP/Getty Images
Italian authorities searching for banned substances found no evidence of doping in overnight raids on the residences of Austrian biathlon and cross-country staff at the Turin Games.

While Italian police were searching the residences early Sunday morning, the IOC also conducted unannounced, out-of-competition drug tests on 10 Austrian athletes, six cross-country skiers and four biathletes.

The investigation began when the World Anti-Doping Agency discovered blood-doping equipment in Austria connected to Walter Mayer, a former Nordic team coach banned from the Olympics for suspicion of performing blood transfusions on athletes at the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Mayer and Volker Mueller, the German chiropractor who prescribed blood treatments, were banned by the International Olympic Committee from the Turin Games and the 2010 Games in Vancouver.

Pound told the AP that doping control officers went to Austria to test athletes there and could not find them. Instead, he said, they found blood-doping equipment linked to Mayer and were told he was with the Austrian team in Italy.

"We were concerned something might be going on in Italy," Pound said.

Roberto Cicatelli, a spokesman for Carabinieri paramilitary police in Turin, said later Sunday morning that "at the moment, nothing of significance has emerged," and that no one had been placed under investigation.

However, Cicatelli said he did not know what materials had been seized and stressed that the investigation was now in the hands of Turin magistrates.

Police searched and interviewed athletes for four hours Saturday night, said Alfred Eder, a trainer for the Austrian biathlon team.

"We are very angry," Eder said. "It is not very gentlemanly."

The Turin Olympics feature the most rigorous drug testing in Winter Games history. Earlier in the week, a Russian biathlete was stripped of her silver medal and expelled from the Olympics after testing positive for an illegal stimulant.

In related developments:

  • Shani Davis became the first black to win an individual gold medal in Winter Olympic history Saturday, capturing the men's 1,000-meter speedskating race. Joey Cheek made it a 1-2 American finish, adding a silver to his victory in the 500.

    "I'm one of a kind," Davis said, fully aware of how much he stands out in the mostly all-white sport.

    Davis was No. 1 on this day, vindicating his decision to skip a new team event so he could focus on his individual races—even if it drew racially charged messages to his personal Web site, "people saying they hoped I would fall, break my leg, using the n-word."

    After crossing the line and spotting his time, the first guy to break 1:09 on the slow Turin ice, Davis thrust his right fist in the air. As he coasted along the back straightaway, he raised both arms toward the roof of the Olympic oval, then put his hands on his head in obvious relief.

    Vonetta Flowers became the first black to win Winter Olympics gold at the Salt Lake City Games four years ago. She was a pusher on the two-woman bobsled team, someone who helps get the machine going and hops along for the ride.

    Figure skater Debi Thomas won the bronze in the 1988 Games.

  • The road to the men's hockey quarterfinals got a little bumpier for the United States.

    Atlanta Thrashers teammates Marian Hossa and Peter Bondra sandwiched goals around one by Brian Rolston to give Slovakia a 2-1 victory over the United States on Saturday night.

    Slovakia (3-0) strengthened its first-place hold in the Olympics Group B, moving two points ahead of Russia and Sweden and three in front of the Americans (1-1-1). The top four in the six-team group move on to the quarterfinals. Each team, including Latvia and Kazakhstan at the bottom, has two preliminary games remaining.

    While the United States held a 30-21 shots advantage, the Americans were hurt by many shots that either sailed off the mark or were blocked before reaching goalie Peter Budaj.

    Bondra snapped a 1-1 tie and handed further disappointment to the U.S. women's hockey team that watched from the stands one night after their upset loss to Sweden in the semifinals.

    After defenseman Chris Chelios fell down behind the U.S. goal, Miroslav Satan took the puck and quickly passed out front to Bondra, who was surrounded by four American players. No matter, as he quickly found a spot between Rick DiPietro's pads to make it 2-1 just 1:48 into the third period.

    The United States nearly got even while short-handed around the 7-minute mark. Jason Blake skated in alone but struck the crossbar, and Erik Cole was denied by Budaj's stick on a 3-on-2 rush.

  • With Bode Miller out of contention, Kjetil Andre Aamodt of Norway outran the field Saturday to successfully defend his Olympic super-G title and win his record eighth Alpine medal.

    The 34-year-old veteran, who was unable to defend his Olympic combined title after hurting his knee in the downhill, won in 1 minute, 30.65 seconds, 0.13 ahead of Hermann Maier.

    Ambrosi Hoffmann of Switzerland took the bronze, 0.33 back.