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British official backs police searches of Olympic village

Published:Tuesday | January 5, 2010 | 1:00 AM

LONDON (AP):

The head of Britain's Olympic body is proposing a new law that would allow police to search the athletes' village for performance-enhancing drugs at the 2012 London Games.

Colin Moynihan, chairman of the British Olympic Association, says he plans to submit a draft bill in the House of Lords to give police extra powers to clamp down on doping in 2012.

Moynihan, a former British sports minister, sits in the House of Lords as a Conservative Peer.

He wants to bring Britain in line with other countries that have anti-doping legislation, such as Italy and France.

The right to search

"That would mean that if someone was blood doping at the Olympic Village in 2012, they (police) would have the right under law to search the premises under a warrant," Moynihan told British media. "If athletes know that could happen, we are going to deter people from cheating and doing themselves harm. It is important that it should be on the statute book."

The International Olympic Committee wants all Olympic host countries to have anti-doping legislation in place for the Games.

In 2006, Italian police - acting on a tip-off from Olympic officials - raided the private accommodations of the Austrian cross-country and biathlon teams during the Turin Winter Games, seizing doping substances and equipment.

Moynihan said police would need reasonable grounds to search the London village.

At present, authorities only have the powers to search for prohibited drugs such as heroin, not performance-enhancing substances.

Under Moynihan's proposal, police could search for all drugs on the World Anti-Doping Agency's banned list.

"It will make it a criminal offence to supply performance-enhancing substances in sport," he said. "I think that as the next Olympic host nation, we should be taking a lead."

Moynihan said he plans to introduce the bill in February and hopes it can become law by July 2011.

"I do not believe the bill will be contentious," he said.

A British athletes' association said it hoped the measure would not lead to random searches in the village.

"That would be utterly disastrous for the London Olympics," said Peter Gardner, chief executive of the British Athletes Commission. "If there is a good reason for a search based on intelligence, then fine, but we don't want to see random searches."