LONDON: Syringes and vials will find no place at the London Olympics. Resolute in its fight against doping, the International Olympic Committee has shifted its focus from cure to prevention, introducing the ‘No Needle Policy’ at the 2012 Games.
The new policy prohibits syringes and other medical equipment from the Olympic village, living areas, locker rooms and training and competition sites without appropriate approval. The fear is that such equipment can be used to inject performance-enhancing drugs.
The IOC has already instructed the 205 national Olympic Committees to adequately ‘educate’ their athletes and officials about the new measure in anti-doping.
In a directive to the NOCs, the IOC has said it would be the responsibility of the doctors accompanying the contingent to ensure that “no syringes and banned substances are found with athletes or officials in their belongings, at the Village and training and competition areas during the Olympic Games.”
With British anti-doping authorities working closely with the customs and other departments to stop performance-enhancing drugs from the entering the country, there is every likelihood that checks will begin at the airport.
While the doctors in the contingent, who have already been registered as medical practitioners in the UK till the end of the Olympics, face the twin tasks of educating the athletes and sanitising the environment at the Games, the athletes too will be held equally responsible for any disregard to the rule.
Exceptions to the rule are allowed only after thorough scrutiny. In legitimate cases, athletes and team doctors have been directed to get the clearance of the chief medical officer at the Games for use of needles for medical injections under “proper medical circumstances”.
Athletes breaking the rule may face immediate suspension but the quantum of sanctions may be decided during this month. A meeting of chefs-de-mission is due soon where finer points of this rule and other doubts will be cleared. A similar attempt was made at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games in 2006 where Australia’s anti-doping rules and a CWG commitment combined to thwart drug cheats.
In the past, needles and syringes have been a common sight in most events, including the Olympics.