Australia says pills, syringes and vials found

 
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MELBOURNE, Mar 16 (Reuters) Unidentified pills were found along with syringes and vials in Australian athletes' rooms at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), a government minister said today.

Australian Sports Minister Rod Kemp said the pills were found after an AIS cleaner discovered the vials and syringes on Tuesday in rooms which had been occupied by members of Australia's Commonwealth Games weightlifting team.

The discovery was made in AIS rooms in Canberra when the team were at the Games village in Melbourne.

''I think the substances were initially found by cleaners, then there was a forensic team brought in to go over rooms,'' Kemp told reporters at a Commonwealth Games news conference.

''Then on the following day, on the Wednesday, after the forensic team had gone through the rooms, a further number of tablets were found and of course they're being tested as well,'' he said.

Kemp said he hoped the results of the tests on the pills and other materials, being conducted at government laboratories, would be known later today.

''The rooms that were involved, I'm advised, were occupied by members of the ... Australian weightlifting team, but we will have to wait and see on the outcome of the investigations before we can make any further comments on that,'' Kemp said.

ANTI-DOPING BLITZ News of the potentially-embarrassing discovery broke on Wednesday just as Queen Elizabeth declared the 18th Commonwealth Games Open.

Australian team chef-de-mission John Devitt warned against directly linking Australia's weightlifters to the discovery until after the results of the tests were known.

''It would be unfair to the competitors to start identifying them, zeroing in and saying these things are happening, until we get told what were the ingredients to make the investigation so far,'' Devitt told reporters.

The AIS is a world-renowned training base used by athletes from around the world as well as from Australia.

''There were other teams in the institute while (the weightlifters) were there,'' Devitt said.

''I don't know who, but they were there at the same time,'' he said.

Organisers last week declared that the 18th Commonwealth Games would boast one of the toughest anti-doping blitzes ever, with almost one in four of the 4,500 competitors to be tested during the March 15-26 event.

Extensive out-of-competition testing has also been conducted and Devitt said weightlifters were among those tested.

''There was testing done at the institute when they went in, there was testing when they came out and some of our weightlifters, I don't know who, have been tested while they have been here,'' he said.

REUTERS PM VC1325

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