Rus­sian track team can still make it to Rio

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

COLORADO SPRINGS: The au­thor of the re­port that de­tailed anti-dop­ing cor­rup­tion in Rus­sia be­lieves the coun­try that spent $51 bil­lion on host­ing the Sochi Olympics should be able to fix its sys­tem in time to get the track team to next year’s Sum­mer Games.

Re­mak­ing Rus­sia’s at­ti­tude to­ward dop­ing could take longer, but Dick Pound doesn’t think that’s the most ur­gent mat­ter. “I don’t think you’ll get the cul­ture fixed in nine months but you can do ac­tions that will come to the same re­sult,” Pound said Tues­day, af­ter ad­dress­ing the World Anti-Dop­ing Agency’s ex­ec­u­tive board. “In a sense, I don’t care whether you’re there with clean ath­letes if the only rea­son is fear of get­ting caught, as op­posed to think­ing that’s the right thing to do. Lis­ten, Rus­sia built Sochi in seven years. This is child’s play.”

Sochi was a mere dot on the map be­fore it landed the right to host the Olympics. Spear­headed by Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin, the coun­try built up the city and hosted last year’s Games. Pound’s in­de­pen­dent com­mis­sion con­cluded the gov­ern­ment must have known about ram­pant dop­ing schemes in Rus­sia’s sys­tem. The com­mis­sion rec­om­mended de­cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of Rus­sia’s anti-dop­ing lab and anti-dop­ing agency (RU­SADA). A vote by WADA’s Foun­da­tion Board to sus­pend RU­SADA comes Wed­nes­day and Pound said “ev­ery­one in the world expects that to hap­pen, and it would be as­ton­ish­ing if it didn’t.” The ques­tion is whether the lab, the an­ti­dop­ing agency and the track team, pro­vi­sion­ally sus­pended by the sport’s rul­ing body (IAAF), can all fall into com­pli­ance in less than nine months, be­fore the start of next year’s Sum­mer Games in Rio de Janeiro.

NEG­A­TIVE

Pound said the po­lit­i­cal pow­ers have to lead the ef­fort. “They have to say, ‘Look, RU­SADA is in­de­pen­dent, the lab is in­de­pen­dent and any­body who doesn’t make that hap­pen is in trou­ble,’” Pound said. “Same with the coaches. They say, ‘Folks, the old Soviet sys­tem is over. And if that’s your method of coach­ing, don’t let the door hit your butt on the way out.’”

Pound called Rus­sia’s ini­tial re­ac­tion to the re­port “neg­a­tive,” but has no­ticed a change of tone since. Lead­ers of the Rus­sian and In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tees met last week­end to start making a roadmap that would bring the Rus­sian track fed­er­a­tion into com­pli­ance. No time­lines have been set. On Mon­day, a group of anti-dop­ing lead­ers sent WADA a let­ter ask­ing them to bar Rus­sians from the Olympics, say­ing less than nine months isn’t enough time to en­sure the pro­gram is clean. “We’re not con­vinced there’s enough time be­tween now and then for them to clean their act up,” said David Ken­wor­thy, the chair­man of the In­sti­tute of Na­tional Anti-Dop­ing Or­ga­ni­za­tions.

Pound didn’t nec­es­sar­ily agree, but said time is of the essence. “They’ve got to bite the bul­let and go full speed ahead to get all this stuff done in time for Rio,” Pound said. “If they start fight­ing over it, fine, take your time. All the time you want. But, by the way, you’re not go­ing to get to work on your sun­tan next sum­mer.” — AP

MOSCOW: Se­cu­rity guards are seen through the glass win­dow dis­play­ing the Olympic Rings at the Rus­sian Olympic Com­mit­tee build­ing in Moscow yes­ter­day. — AFP

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