December 03, 2015

ROME (AP) The 20 active athletes facing possible doping suspensions should continue training for next year's Olympics, the president of the Italian athletics federation said Thursday.

The Italian Olympic Committee requested two-year bans Wednesday for 26 athletes - six of whom have retired - for evading tests.

All 26 maintain there was an administrative error in WADA's Whereabouts system which requires athletes to provide their anti-doping organization with details of where they can be found for one hour every day.

''The federation stands behind its athletes,'' FIDAL president Alfio Giomi said. ''The system wasn't working. I don't support that the athletes have become the victims of what happened.''

The 26 athletes face trials at CONI's anti-doping court, with decisions expected sometime next year.

''None of us tested positive. Nobody evaded tests,'' said Fabrizio Donato, the bronze medalist in triple jump at the 2012 London Olympics.

CONI acted following an investigation by prosecutors in Bolzano. The evaded tests allegedly occurred in 2011-12.

The list of accused athletes includes Andrew Howe, the silver medalist in long jump at the 2007 world championships; distance runners Daniele Meucci, Ruggero Pertile and Anna Incerti; middle-distance runner Matteo Galvan; and triple jumper Daniele Greco.

The six retired athletes are 2003 pole vault world champion Giuseppe Gibilisco, sprinter Simone Collio, Roberto Donati, Claudio Licciardello, Migidio Bourifa and Filippo Campioli.

Alex Schwazer, the gold medalist in 50-kilometer race walk at the 2008 Beijing Olympics who was banned previously, was among 39 athletes cleared in this case.

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