Long distance runner Devis Licciardi has been summoned to a hearing by the Italian Olympic Committee after reports that he used a "fake penis" to beat a doping test.
The extraordinary story comes from the ANSA news agency in Italy, who report:
Licciardi, an athlete for the Italian Air Force team, allegedly filled up a fake penis with urine uncontaminated by banned substances and tried to use it during a test at the race to proclaim Italy's 10km road-running champion at Molfetta, near Bari. Licciardi has been called to disciplinary proceedings at Rome's Stadio Olimpico on Wednesday.
Athletes looking to get around doping controls have a long history of enterprising—if immoral—ways of beating the rules.
In cycling, for instance, those methods became almost as calculated as the preparation for the races themselves, according to former American road racer Tyler Hamilton, who wrote an exposé on his experiences.
Still, the use of a fake penis is something of a novelty, if it transpires that the allegations against Licciardi are true.
According to FloTrack.org, if the Italian was cheating, it did not propel him to the front of the field:
Licciardi finished in last place in the 5,000-meter run at the 49th Palio Citta della Quercia in Italy, where he ran 13:59.16.
A spokesman for UK anti-doping, asked for comment about this story, was quoted in The Local saying (perhaps unsurprisingly) that this was a somewhat unusual story:
In the UK, we operate very strict procedures whereby one of the doping control experts would be there to see the sample leave the athletes body.