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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Doping Cases 'Tip of Iceberg'

One of the country's top Olympic officials says doping scandals involving the nation's weightlifters are only "the tip of the iceberg" and wants special laws against the trafficking of steroids from China.

Nikolai Durmanov, head of the Russian Olympic Committee's anti-doping agency, said Tuesday that young people were turning to steroids because of pressure to "resemble [Arnold] Schwarzenegger or [Sylvester] Stallone."

"I must say that the peak of doping, if everything is left as it is, will be in three or four years and will be comparable to America," Durmanov said.

Durmanov called for legislation that takes international steroid trafficking as seriously as the smuggling of other illegal drugs.

"Everyone knows perfectly well that the main producer off all these substances is China," Durmanov said at a news conference.

"We are between China and Europe, so if we don't have legislation to fight steroid trafficking, then those steroids will end up in Europe tomorrow."

Durmanov spoke as Russian weightlifting officials voiced fears their team could be barred from the 2008 Beijing Olympics because of a spate of doping cases.

Dmitry Berestov, a gold medalist at the 2004 Athens Olympics, and Yevgeny Pisarev, a 17-year-old European junior champion, received two-year bans this month after failing drug tests. Under international federation rules, a third suspension in 2006 could result in the entire team being banned for two years. "We need to do everything possible not to have a third person caught," Durmanov said.

"If a third appears ... it means our federation gets an international ban and big problems with the Beijing Olympics."

Durmanov said the weightlifting cases were "only the small tip of a big iceberg." He said Russian anti-doping officials were facing a wider problem of steroid use in society at large, fueled by a popular culture that emphasizes physical appearance.

"People who like to lose weight as a rule do doping," he said.

To back up his point, Durmanov pulled two fist-sized pill bottles out of his jacket that he said were confiscated from two "respectable" health clubs and represented the prevalence of performance-enhancing drugs.