updated 6/19/2008 1:31:08 PM ET 2008-06-19T17:31:08

Olympic officials say they would ask Chinese police to take action against suspected doping rings in the athletes’ village and other locations during the Beijing Games.

International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge told The Associated Press on Thursday that his group would tip off Chinese authorities to suspicious activity by athletes or coaches, just as it alerted Italian police to blood doping by Austrian team members during the 2006 Turin Winter Games.

“This is paramount,” Rogge said. “We did not hesitate to call in the police in Turin. We will do that when we suspect there is a kind of drug-dealing ring. We cannot investigate ourselves. We need the support of the state.”

Italian police raided the lodgings of Austria’s cross country and biathlon teams during the Turin Games in February 2006, seizing alleged doping substances and equipment. The search was triggered by the presence of former Austrian coach Walter Mayer, who was implicated in a blood-doping case at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games.

The IOC later imposed lifetime bans on four Austrian athletes for possession of prohibited substances and taking part in a doping conspiracy. The IOC also fined the Austrian Olympic Committee $1 million for failing to prevent the blood-doping violations.

Rogge said the IOC is prepared, based on sufficient evidence, to ask Chinese authorities to conduct similar raids and searches.

“If needed, they would provide the help that is possible,” he said. “We can only call the police, or the police can come spontaneously, when we have suspicions.”

Police action would be targeted only against cases of organized and aggravated doping.

“This is for people who are selling doping products or have major possession of doping products or are actively helping other athletes to dope,” Rogge said in a telephone interview from Lausanne, Switzerland.

The IOC will be conducting more than 4,500 doping tests during the Beijing Games, which includes out-of-competition controls starting with the opening of the Olympic village on July 27. The Olympics run Aug. 8-24. The IOC carried out about 3,600 tests during the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Rogge said Beijing will have 739 blood tests, including 400 for human growth hormone. The HGH test — first introduced in Athens — has been enhanced by 50 percent, but the window of detection is still limited, he said.

“Nevertheless it has a major deterrent effect and it will hopefully catch the cheats if they take it,” Rogge said, adding the HGH tests will be carried out during pre-competition periods rather than in-competition.

Athletes can be subjected to surprise tests wherever they are in the world, including at training sites, before they arrive in Beijing.

Rogge said the IOC will target any suspicious athletes, just as it did when it went after Greek sprinters Kostas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou on the eve of the Athens Olympics.

The runners failed to show up for tests in the Olympic village and claimed they were injured in a motorcycle accident. The two were pulled out of the games and later banned for two years.

“Athletes know that we mean business,” Rogge said. “Athletes know that we are going to chase them if we don’t have their whereabouts. ... Hiding places are becoming more and more difficult to find.”

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