The lengths athletes will go to.... Italian long-distance runner Devis Licciardi accused of using fake penis to beat doping test

A fake penis might be novel but the use of substitute urine isn’t

Milan

The lengths to which athletes might go to beat drug controls took on a new dimension this week after an Italian runner was accused of employing a false penis to evade detection during a urine test.

Long-distance runner Devis Licciardi is now being investigated by the country's Olympic committee for allegedly planning to whip out the prosthetic, which was full of drug-free urine, and squirt that in the test bowl instead.

Authorities say that Mr Licciardi, an athlete for the Italian Air Force team, attempted the scam after the Italy's 10km road race at Molfetta, near Bari, last Saturday. La Voce d’Italia website reported that officials caught him “in flagrante” with his plastic accoutrement.

The 27-year-old from Varese has already been summoned to face disciplinary proceedings at Rome's Olympic Stadium, by the disciplinary panel Coni, which announced on its website that the athlete would face his first hearing at noon on Wednesday 25 September.

La Stampa newspaper noted last Friday, on the eve of the Molfetta road race, that Licciardi was one of the runners to keep an eye on following his recent “remarkable” results in the 3,000-metre steeplechase.

The TGcom24 news service reported that he was likely to face an exemplary punishment from Coni  — quite probably a lengthy ban — if found guilty.

A fake penis might be novel, but the use of substitute urine isn’t. The Belgian cyclist Michel Pollentier was rumbled after grabbing the yellow jersey during the Tour de France back in 1978. Officials caught him using a condom of different urine held under the armpit that was connected by a plastic tube to give the impression that he was drug-free.

The fake penis scam might be novel, but the use of substitute urine isn’t. The Belgian cyclist Michel Pollentier was rumbled after grabbing the yellow jersey during the Tour de France back in 1978. Officials caught him using a condom of different urine held under the armpit that was connected by a plastic tube to give the impression that he was drug-free.

Chemicals that can be used to dilute banned substances in the blood and urine are easily available online.

And for cheats undeterred by the embarrassing accusations leveled at Mr Licciardi, La Repubblica newspaper has reported that plastic penis kits can be purchased on the internet for €130. 

For this, you get not only a fake member in a choice of five skin shades, but also the synthetic urine tank that fits in the anus.  It’s not entirely clear, though, how suitable or comfortable this device is for those seeking to compete in the steeplechase like Mr Licciardi or the long jump.

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