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Uzbek Coach Served Summons

An Uzbekistan coach stopped at the airport last week with 15 vials of suspected performance-enhancing drugs in his baggage was served a summons in the Olympic Village by Australian customs officers.

"Customs will be alleging that the substance is human growth hormone, which is a prohibited import," a statement on the customs service's Web site said.

The president of the Uzbek national Olympic committee said Monday that track and field coach Sergei Voynov, 45, brought the HGH into Australia for personal use as part of treatment for a skin disorder.

Leon Bedington, the Olympics spokesman for the customs service, said Thursday that Voynov was served with the summons late Wednesday in the Olympic Village.

Bedington said Voynov is scheduled to appear next Tuesday morning at a Sydney court to answer the charge of importing a prohibited substance. The coach does not have to appear personally, but can send a legal representative on his behalf.

Voynov, or his representative, will be expected Tuesday to either enter a plea or seek another hearing date. Bedington said officials will try to expedite the process, since they know Voynov is only scheduled to be in Australia during the Olympics.

Under a law passed in March, a person caught illegally importing a performance-enhancing drug into Australia could face a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $57,000 fine.

HGH, a muscle-building drug banned by the International Olympic Committee, is covered by that law.

Olympic officials have said they could withdraw Voynov's accreditation if it is determined he was improperly carrying HGH.

Uzbek NOC president Sabirjan Ruziev said Voynov has a skin disorder called Alopecia capitis totalis, or total baldness of the scalp, and that Voynov had treatment in Tashkent with the drug Somatotropine before coming to Sydney.

Djamshiddin Yusupov, a doctor with the Uzbek NOC, said Somatotropine contains HGH.

"He brought it for himself because he is sick," said Ruziev, who added that Voynov was so disturbed by accusations of smuggling that he had to be taken to a hospital with high blood pressure and chest pains.

IOC medical director Patrick Schamasch confirmed that Somatotropine "is part of the treatment" for that skin disorder.

Ruziev said Voynov does not speak English and did not understand the questions on the customs form he turned in upon arrival in Sydney. Voynov voluntarily informed customs officials he had the drug, Ruziev said.

Australian customs officials and IOC officials hailed the seizure last Thursday as an example of success in the fight against performance-enhancing drugs.

Sen. Amanda Vanstone, the Australian minister for justice and customs, praised customs officials Thursday (Wednesday night EDT) for their work.

"The federal government has put a great deal of detailed planning and resources into planning for the Olympic ad Paralympic games and Australia's border agencies are doing an excellent job of facilitating the large number of games visitors into Australia while also ensuring that Australia's laws are upheld," she said.

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