Wed, 17 May 2000

KONI vows to get tough on athletes found using drugs

JAKARTA (JP): The National Sports Council (KONI) has spelled out its stance concerning athletes who are caught taking illegal drugs to enhance their performance.

KONI's official in charge of organizational affairs, Putra Astaman, said the council would not protect athletes who were proved by law enforcement agents to have consumed illegal drugs.

He said the council did not have a problem with the police apprehending the users, but they could not raid a training location or sports school.

"We would be very thankful if the officers arrested athletes taking illegal drugs in a discotheque or hotel. Still, the police are not allowed to take action at any training sites," said Putra, himself a retired police major general.

"If KONI finds out an athlete is a drug user, KONI will take stern measures and sanction him or her. Promising athletes will be sent to a drug rehabilitation center. If the athlete becomes addicted to drugs, we will not hesitate to expel him or her from the sports community.

"We will also cooperate with the police but we have yet to set a date to realize this. We will also report to the police if we have information on athletes who take drugs. We won't protect the athlete because he or she will become poison in the sports community."

He recommended harsh punishment. "They are trained people, so they deserve severe punishment. They are like police officers. An officer is a trained person, so they must receive sterner punishment if they are found guilty of something."

Illegal drug use is already prevalent among national athletes. There also have been instances of athletes taking medication which contained substances banned by their international sports organizations.

Others intentionally used banned substances to enhance their performance and some are addicts. Recent attention has focused on drug use among soccer players, including Kurniawan Dwi Yulianto, who was long considered one of the country's best strikers.

Kurniawan faces sanctions from the Soccer Association of Indonesia (PSSI) if he does not disprove the allegations made against him by Friday.

Putra said he could not estimate the number of athletes suspected of taking drugs. "But there is an indication that drug dealers have targeted the sports community. They thought that athletes have enough money to buy their goods."

He said that at Ragunan Sports School in South Jakarta, drug dealers offered their goods to athletes and coaches.

He said KONI would allow sports organizations to sanction athletes charged with using drugs.

"We respect the freedom of sports organizations in deciding sanctions imposed on athletes who consume illegal drugs. KONI will take over the decision-making if the case exceeds the authority of the organization," he said. (ivy)