Drug testers warn they could turn up anywhere at any time in the run-up to the Olympics and they proved it, swooping on the presidential palace in Rome in the middle of a ceremony.
The IAAF, which has banned Russian track and field athletes from competing at the Rio Games in August, popped up on Tuesday at Quirinal Palace in the Italian capital, reports said.
Their target for a drug test was not President Sergio Mattarella but the race walker Elisa Rigaudo, who was among a number of Italian athletes invited to the presidential residence for an Olympic flag handover ceremony.
The daily La Stampa and other media described how a German doctor and a delegate from the IAAF, athletics’ world governing body, dropped in uninvited on the ceremony and asked to perform a blood test on Rigaudo.
“Obviously they did not know that the Quirinal is the residence of the head of the Italian state. I asked to postpone the test for a few minutes and for it to be done at the local Olympic committee,” a bemused Rigaudo said, according to La Stampa.
“I explained to the German inspector that it was the Quirinal,” she said on Twitter.
“It’s like he thought he was visiting Angela Merkel!” Rigaudo will take part in the 20 km walk in Rio.