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IOC chief defends ‘big brother’ tactics in fight against doping

International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge has defended the use of what he called "big brother" methods in the fight to catch doped athletes. "We have 'big brother' everywhere in the fight against doping," Rogge told the German daily Suddeutsche Zeitung. "I don't have a problem with it, it's about punishing cheaters. If someone wants to sue for their right to privacy - then please, go ahead." Rogge said the tactics were necessary because athletes can cover signs of using banned substances during competitions. "We can test better now than six months ago, we can find EPO. Still

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By The Associated Press

International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge has defended the use of what he called “big brother” methods in the fight to catch doped athletes.

“We have ‘big brother’ everywhere in the fight against doping,” Rogge told the German daily Suddeutsche Zeitung.

“I don’t have a problem with it, it’s about punishing cheaters. If someone wants to sue for their right to privacy – then please, go ahead.”

Rogge said the tactics were necessary because athletes can cover signs of using banned substances during competitions.

“We can test better now than six months ago, we can find EPO. Still only one thing really counts: unannounced training tests,” Rogge said. “During competitions, the cheaters are clean, beforehand they’re not.”

Since athletes are required to notify their governing athletic organisations of their whereabouts at all times, Rogge called for a clampdown on those who can’t be found when controllers appear at their door.

“We have to be stricter in punishing athletes that don’t appear at these tests. They should be disqualified,” he said. “Those who aren’t available right away have to be within one or two hours. No more exceptions for those that don’t appear three, four or five times.”

Another key step to catching dopers, Rogge said, is to make governing bodies legally responsible for the whereabouts of their athletes. “That is the only way,” he said.

Athletes can now secretly send their own samples to cooperative labs beforehand to make sure they don’t test positive during competitions. Most success stories against cheaters, Rogge said, came when they were surprised by unannounced tests.

He pointed to the case of Spanish cross-country skier Johann Muehlegg, who was stripped of two gold medals from the Salt Lake City games after testing positive for darbepoetin.

“When someone’s suspicious, we send someone to their house. Like Muehlegg. He was in his quarters at the course as our team knocked at six in the evening,” he said.

Rogge said the case of Greek sprinters Kostas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou – whose failure to appear for testing triggered a major scandal in at the Athens Olympics – came about when he ordered the IOC doctor to control 20 athletes a few days before the start of the summer games.

The two sprinters were the only ones that couldn’t be found and the IOC tried and failed to catch up to them in a Munich hotel and then at the Olympic Village.

Kenteris and Thanou, who have never tested positive, then said they had a motorcycle accident.

“I’m happy they’ve been suspended,” Rogge said of action taken by athletics’ world governing body.

The IOC president said strides have been made against doping in sports, but that hopes it can be eliminated are naive.

“That would be like demanding society stamp out criminal activity. We will always need police and prisons,” Rogge said.