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Suspicious substances test negative, officials say

Written by: Staff
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MELBOURNE, Mar 17 (Reuters) Tests on pills, syringes and vials found in local athletes rooms' at the Australian Institute of Sport showed no traces of banned performance-enhancing drugs, anti-doping officials said today.

''Laboratory analysis of materials from the AIS was negative for traces of performance-enhancing substances,'' Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority chairman Richard Ings told a media conference in Canberra.

Ings said the material, said by Australian Sports Minister Rod Kemp to have been found in AIS rooms in Canberra occupied by Australian weightlifters, were ''common vitamins and minerals''.

While not illegal, sports administrators believe injecting vitamins and minerals portrays athletes in a bad light.

The potentially embarrassing discovery became known at about the same time Queen Elizabeth declared the Games open on Wednesday, throwing a cloud over the hosts and the chequered past of the local weightlifting team.

IMMEDIATE INQUIRY Australian weightlifting was not completely exonerated, with Ings announcing that an inquiry would begin immediately into other recent anti-doping allegations against Australian weightlifters.

''Based on recent adverse findings for performance-enhancing substances and the subsequent allegations of trafficking in these substances, I feel that it is necessary to commission a wide-ranging inquiry to examine all the details of the allegations,'' Ings said.

The wide-ranging inquiry would investigate ''any and all allegations of anti-doping rules violations linked to Australian weightlifting'', he said.

ASADA has recently been investigating claims that Australian weightlifter Belinda van Tienen supplied banned stimulants to fellow lifters.

Ings said ASADA was not planning at present to bring any charges against van Tienen, freeing her to compete in the Commonwealth Games. Van Tienen was recently cleared by the Australian Weightlifting Federation and is due to lift on Monday.

Australian lifters Camilla Fogagnolo, Jenna Myers, Sergo Chakhoyan and Corran Hocking have all been banned for drug offences.

REUTERS PM SP1305

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