IOC adopts ‘no needles’ policy for London Games
The IOC will enforce a ”no needle” policy for the 2012 London
Olympics that bars athletes from possessing syringes and other
medical equipment that could be used for doping.
IOC medical commission chairman Arne Ljungqvist told The
Associated Press that needles will be prohibited from living areas,
locker rooms and training and competition sites without medical
”We won’t accept medical equipment like syringes and needles in
the field of play or non-medical environment,” Ljungqvist said.
”It gives a very bad image and a bad message and can relate to
misuse of drugs and doping.”
The international cycling, rowing and gymnastics federations
already have no-needle policies.
The International Olympic Committee will send the new rules to
all 205 national Olympic committees, which will have the
responsibility of making sure their teams comply.
Athletes and team doctors will have to apply to the games’ chief
medical officer to seek authorization for use of needles for
”They should only be used in proper medical circumstances,”
The no-needle policy is the latest piece of a rigorous
anti-doping program being put into place for the London Games. He
said more than 5,000 drug tests will be conducted, including
surprise, out-of-competition urine and blood checks.
Increasingly, the testing will be based on intelligence and
tipoffs, Ljungqvist said.
In addition to the potential for doping, disposed needles also
pose a health risk to house cleaners and other hotel staff, he
”If you have needles in waste paper baskets, that’s not safe,”
he said. ”They are not supposed to be there.”
At past Olympics and world championships, cleaners have found
needles and syringes in athletes’ villages and other living
”This is too frequent,” Ljungqvist said. ”It’s too common,
After the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, the IOC opened a
blood doping investigation after medical equipment was found in a
house rented by Austrian athletes.
”The IOC has and other federations have experience of medical
equipment, syringes, needles and infusion aggregates being found in
dormitories and inappropriate places during and even after the
games,” Ljungqvist said at a separate news conference. ”I can
refer to the Salt Lake City incident.”
The UCI, cycling’s governing body, instituted a ”no needle”
policy in May that limits when riders can receive injections and
prohibits injections of recovery-boosting vitamins, sugars, enzymes
and amino acids.
The UCI said its research has suggested that even legitimate use
of needles may often put riders on a slippery slope toward doping.
Riders can be suspended up to six months and fined $116,000 for a
first offense. Teams face exclusion from races if an illegal
injection is given.
Ljungqvist said sanctions for the Olympics still need to be
finalized, but they would likely be ”similar” to the punishments
for a doping violation. Doping offenses normally result in
expulsion from the games.
The IOC and British anti-doping authorities will share
information to stop the import of doping substances into the
country and target any doping activity before and during the
”We will be working on knowledge of where doping substances may
be, with whom and by whom,” Ljungqvist said.
While Britain doesn’t have specific anti-doping laws, Ljungqvist
said U.K. Anti-Doping is working closely with customs and other
”So far it seems to satisfy our needs,” he said.
If there is evidence or suspicion of doping networks in
operation at the games, the IOC hopes police would go after
At the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italian police raided the
lodgings of the Austrian cross-country and biathlon team and seized
blood-doping equipment. Five athletes were later banned by the IOC
for involvement in the scandal, but the Olympic body was powerless
without the police action, Ljungqvist said.
”The Torino example is a perfect one and that is what I’d like
to see in place when we have an Olympic Games or world
championships,” he said.
”They had a criminal law criminalizing the possession of doping
substances and doping equipment when we were powerless. The
importance of this was so well exposed in Torino.”
AP Sports Writer Gerald Imray contributed to this report.