ROME (AP) -- Officials from Europe's national Olympic committees said Thursday that they are ready to work toward a unified effort to use sports to battle drug abuse.
Attended by top sports officials from more than 20 countries, the two-day conference in Rome proposed a "European collaborative effort for the prevention of drug use through the participation in athletics."
The proposal, which must be approved by individual national Olympic committees, would expand on an Italian model that seeks to spread programs that combine sports with drug abuse prevention.
While the outcry over performance-enhancing drugs continues, this conference instead focused on the potential positive effect that sports can have in steering youths away from substance abuse and addiction.
"Educators have long been aware that the practice of sport is naturally a school for the body, but also for the soul," said Spain's Feliciano Mayoral, secretary-general of the Association of National Olympic Committees.
"The Olympic philosophy is at heart a school where the highest objective is self-improvement, shared search for perfection, harmony, friendship, solidarity in responsibility ... all qualities which are in contradiction to the use and effects of drugs," he said.