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Cutting illegal drug list

Banesto, ONCE directors back Saramanch stance on performance enhancers

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Posted: Monday July 27, 1998 11:13 AM

  Samaranch: "Anything that doesn't adversely affect the health of the athlete, for me isn't doping." J.J. Strahm/ IOC/Allsport

MADRID, Spain (CNN/SI) -- Two directors of Spain's top cycling teams Banesto and ONCE welcomed the call by the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Juan Antonio Samaranch for the legalization of some performance-enhancing drugs in sport.

"I'm completely in agreement with Saramanch." Eusebio Unzue, the Banesto team director said Monday, adding "I'm also pleased that he has chosen this time to speak out. It's very important because our sport needs to recapture its long-held good image. His comments are extremely important and we have to take advantage of them."

That sentiment was echoed by ONCE director Manolo Saiz, who said, "I think these were good words from Saramanch, to set us on a good course in professional sport.

"As it stands, all those substances prohibited by the medical commission of the International Olympic Committee are considered as doping substances." Samaranch said in an interview with the Spanish daily El Mundo on Sunday.

"For me, this is not sufficient. Drug taking is anything which firstly damages the health of the sportsman and, secondly, artificially improves his performance."

"If something produces just the second effect, then for me it's not drug-taking. If it produces the first, then yes."

"The list of products must be reduced drastically. Anything that doesn't adversely affect the health of the athlete, for me isn't doping," Samaranch later reiterated.

His comments came in the wake of the doping scandal that has rocked the Tour de France, but athletes from the world of track and field were quick to voice their opposition.

Former British middle distance world record holders Steve Ovett and Steve Cram, now working in TV, both condemned Samaranch's view.

Ovett said Samaranch wanted to throw in the towel in the fight against drugs. "How do you define dangerous?" said Ovett, adding "Is it when someone keels over and dies?"

"As soon as we give in to the notion that anything goes then the concept of fair competition has no meaning," David Moorcroft, the head of British athletics said.


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Reuters contributed to this report.

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