TORINO, Italy – No evidence of doping was detected in samples from 10 Austrian skiers targeted in raids and subjected to surprise drug tests at the Torino Olympics, the IOC said Friday.
"The samples did not show up any adverse findings," International Olympic Committee spokeswoman Giselle Davies said at a news conference Friday evening, hours after the test analysis was completed.
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The negative findings do not clear the Austrians, however. The IOC plans a formal investigation after the Turin Games and could sanction the Austrians based on evidence found in the police raids and other circumstantial evidence.
The Austrian team called a news conference for shortly after the IOC media briefing.
The six cross-country skiers and four biathletes were given unannounced drug tests last Saturday night while Italian police raided team lodgings in a search for medical supplies and equipment that could be used in blood doping.
The raids were conducted after anti-drug authorities discovered that banned coach Walter Mayer was with the team at the Torino Games. Mayer was banned from the Olympics following allegations of blood doping at the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City.
The test results had been delayed for several days as the urine samples underwent detailed analysis at the official IOC doping control laboratory in Torino.
An Italian prosecutor said the unexpectedly long delay could have been the result of Austrian skiers frantically guzzling water during Saturday night's raid — an act that might have diluted their doping samples.
When police arrived at the lodgings, athletes reached for water bottles at the feet of their beds and began drinking large quantities, prosecutor Ciro Santoriello told the French sports daily L'Equipe in an interview published Friday.
"Believe me, they didn't drink like you or me," Santoriello said. "It seemed urgent, vital."
Consuming a lot of water can dilute urine samples, making testing more lengthy and difficult.
Santoriello also said police found large quantities of the anti-asthma drug salbutamol during the raid. He said 95 percent of the Austrian athletes staying in Pragelato claimed to have the ailment and provided medical documents as proof.
"We will verify that, because it is strange," Santoriello said.
Salbutamol is on the IOC's list of banned substances. Athletes need a "therapeutic use exemption" to be able to use it during the Olympics.
Italian police questioned the Austrian ski team's sports director Friday, a day after he took responsibility for Mayer's presence among the squad's biathletes and cross-country skiers at the Olympics.
Markus Gandler and other team staff members, including Mayer's driver, were questioned by police in Sestriere, said Josef Schmidt, a spokesman for the Austrian ski federation.
During the raids on Austrian lodgings in San Sicario and nearby Pragelato, police also seized blood transfusion equipment, syringes and other materials linked to Mayer.
Mayer fled the Torino Olympics in the wake of the raids, only to crash his car into a police blockade just over the Austrian border and ending up in a psychiatric hospital.
On Thursday, Austrian ski federation chief Peter Schroecksnadel met for about three hours with prosecutors at Turin's main judicial offices. Giampaolo Zancan, a high-profile Italian lawyer hired by the Austrians, said Schroecksnadel and prosecutors mutually agreed to the meeting, and that the Austrian was there strictly as a witness.
Two of the biathletes Mayer coached, Wolfgang Perner and Wolfgang Rottman, fled after the raid, telling Gandler they may have used "illegal methods." They were dumped from the team.
The Austrian Olympic Committee has opened an investigation into the scandal and the IOC plans to set up a disciplinary commission once the results of the doping screens and of the Italian investigation are in.