Give Aussie athletes a fair go: ASC

Daily Telegraph, Australia
The Advertiser, Australia
Brisbane Courier Mail, Australia
Melbourne Herald Sun, Australia, Australia
July 14 2004

Give Aussie athletes a fair go: ASC

THE Australian Sports Commission today called for a fair go for the
country’s Olympians as another cyclist became the third athlete
dumped from the team for Athens.

Former world champion sprint cyclist Sean Eadie was cut from the team
over doping allegations, just five days after fellow cyclist Jobie
Dajka and weightlifter Caroline Pileggi suffered similar fates.

But the ASC asked the public to keep an open mind about the innocence
and dedication of the vast majority of the 480 or so Australian
athletes expected to go to Athens for the Olympics from August 13-29.

“I just ask that they (the public) take a deep breath and think of
all the athletes that have given their all to represent their country
in Athens,” said Mark Peters, executive director of the federal
government-funded sports body.

“Any suggestion that there is a drugs crisis in Australian sport or
that there has been an attempt to cover up are just plain wrong.”

Prime Minister John Howard weighed into the debate today saying he
hoped the Australian Olympic Committee could live up to its
commitment for a drug-free team in Athens.

“I hope that that goal can be realised,” Mr Howard told ABC radio.

At this stage the drug allegations are restricted to cycling and

Cycling Australia withdrew Eadie’s nomination after the AOC wrote to
them saying the cyclist was not an acceptable team member.

Eadie, 35, who has never returned a positive drugs test, was issued
with an anti-doping infraction notice after Customs said they had
intercepted a package of banned human growth hormones mailed to his
address from San Diego, California in January 1999.

Eadie denies all knowledge of the matter.

He has 48 hours to appeal against his dropping from the team, and he
is already appealing separately against the infraction notice issued
to him over the mailed package of growth hormone tablets.

“It’s a complicated legal process, and that’s the lawyers’ job,” he

“My job is to train and that’s going very, very well.”

Dajka’s place in the Olympic team is on hold pending awaiting a
report from South Australian police into an investigation into him,
Eadie and three other cyclists over claims made by now banned cyclist
Mark French.

Investigator Robert Anderson, QC, said he was not satisfied with some
of Dajka’s testimony, including the fact he had lied about his
involvement with greyhound racing.

Meanwhile Pileggi, dumped for refusing a doping test in Fiji last
month, is appealing her case at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal
in Melbourne tomorrow.

And Australia’s sole male weightlifter for Athens, Sergo Chakhoyan,
who served a two-year ban after a positive test at the 2001 Brisbane
Goodwill Games, has had his nomination for Athens deferred pending
the outcome of recent drug test conducted in Armenia.