WASHINGTON, Nov. 30 – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network (www.LawFuel.com)- “The Italian government should be heralded for its strong stance against drug use,” asserts Robert Weiner, a former spokesman for the Clinton White House drug policy Office. “The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), instead of fighting the Italian laws, should embrace them. The message to the youth of the world should be, no drug abuse in sport, and watch the spectacular and clean competitions.”
In an op-ed in today’s Deseret Morning News in Salt Lake City, Weiner, who directed the World Anti-Doping Agency media outreach at the Salt Lake City Olympics and White House Drug Policy media at the Sydney Olympics and is now president of a public affairs issues strategies company, is strongly against “the IOC’s proposal of a moratorium on Italy’s law imposing prison sentences for drug offenders at the 2006 Winter Olympics,” in Turin, Italy Feb. 10-26.
Currently, “The IOC, in conjunction with WADA, is pressuring Italian lawmakers, of all things, to reduce the penalty for athletes who are caught using banned substances during the Olympics. Olympic officials believe that Italian lawmakers should reduce penalties to parallel the IOC, which would ban athletes from the Games and suspend them from future competition.” Government supervisor Mario Pescante said Tuesday, he will confer with IOC president Jacques Rogge this weekend at a European Olympic meeting in Dublin, Ireland.
The piece, co-authored by Cael Pulitzer, a senior policy analyst and sports policy specialist at Robert Weiner Associates, contends that, “The 2002 Salt Lake Games were a model of effectiveness -– local authorities and IOC officials cooperated and busted Olympians before and during the Games including Gold medalists and sent them home or stopped them from coming. Now we can assure an even more drug free Olympics in Italy.”
Furthermore, they state, “The IOC fears that the law will cause public scandal. Before WADA, that was also the old argument against a serious Olympic anti-drug effort—thankfully no longer the unstated policy. Cleaning up sport is a better image. Likewise, in reality, this law will prevent public scandal. Athletes who dope likely won’t come.” The writers stress, “Is this a bad development? How would a drug-free Olympics be a bad thing?”
Weiner and Pulitzer add, “In 2004, WADA created the World Anti-Doping Code to unify drug standards all over the world and to prevent prevalent drug use as it occurred in the 1980’s. This initiative has been effective and has reduced drug use in sports; but wouldn’t it be more effective if punishments were not just temporary suspension from sport, but real accountability under the law? The two strategies are not in conflict but help each other.” They conclude, “Italy, stand your ground.”