SEARCH 2000 Games

Friday, July 7, 2000
Acting PM weighs in on doping scandal

  CANBERRA, Australia (AP) -- Australia's acting prime minister on Friday urged whistleblower Werner Reiterer to name the athletes and officials he accused of cheating.

  Peter Costello, filling in for John Howard while the prime minister is in London on diplomatic business, also called for the Australian Olympic Committee to investigate systematic drug use, saying all athletes and officials were "entitled to be cleared."

  In his autobiography that went on sale Wednesday, Reiterer, a two-time Olympian, said sports officials condoned and covered-up systematic doping among elite Australian athletes.

  The 1994 Commonwealth Games discus gold medalist said swimmers and track athletes were using human growth hormones because those substances were undetectable with conventional drug testing methods.

  AOC president John Coates ordered an immediate inquiry Wednesday but the investigation was abandoned less than 24 hours later because Reiterer refused to name the officials or other athletes involved.

  Reiterer said the corrupt officials he knew of were either retired or were not going to be involved in an official capacity at the Sept. 15-Oct. 1 Sydney Olympics.

  On that basis, and due to the fact he didn't believe that identifying individual drugs cheats was a solution to the problem, Reiterer said he could not provide any more details to investigators.

  "If there is any allegation against any one person I think that information should be given," Costello said. "I think that the allegations having been made, they should either be withdrawn or they should be investigated."

  The AOC on Friday said it had not canceled the inquiry but had left it open in case Reiterer decided to cooperate.

  "We also invite athletes, officials including coaches from previous Olympic and athletics teams who have evidence relating to the allegations raised by Reiterer to come forward and give evidence to the investigation," Coates said.

  Keiren Perkins, a two-time Olympic swimming champion in the 1,500-meter freestyle, also said the AOC should continue the inquiry.

  Perkins, seeking his third Olympic gold medal in Sydney, was incensed by Reiterer's allegation that swimmers had a higher profile and were therefore given more powerful drugs.

  "Allegations like that just aren't going to disappear, as disgusting and distasteful as it is," he said. "I think it's necessary that an inquiry take place and all of us should be given the opportunity to stand up and clear our names under oath.

  "He's made a direct attack on us. We should be given the right to defend ourselves."

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