Alex Constantine - June 30, 2007
Official: Doping in Mafia's hands
(Originally posted March 17, 2000)
PARIS (AP) -- One of Italy's most senior anti-doping officials believes that organized crime controls much of the supply of banned drugs in cycling, French sports daily L'Equipe reported Thursday.
Sandro Donati, head of research at the Italian National Olympic Committee and head of the committee's anti-doping program, accused the sport of inadequate drugs testing and a failure to punish cyclists who have been caught taking banned drugs.
"Cycling has been taken into the hands of organized gangs," Donati told L'Equipe. "In some cases, organized crime and the mafia is in control, which means that the system is working for its own account, independent of the sport.
"Gangs that trade in doping are the same as those that trade in narcotics," he added. "There is no longer a big difference between the two groups. When customs officers arrest them, they find them carrying both anabolic steroids and cocaine."
Donati, who is also a senior adviser to the Italian government on anti-doping issues, said that cycling is not doing enough to control the use of banned substances among riders.
"I ask myself if the cycling world, which hates those who fight against doping, loves its riders or if it is are only preoccupied with fortunes and what brings in the money."
Donati said he believes that cycling will only survive by appointing independent bodies to carry out doping tests.
He said the current system of testing lacks credibility because cyclists are allowed to take banned substances as long as they remain within the level of tolerance.
"I see it as a sport without hope, immersed in its own mentality," Donati said.