Olympic sum­mit to seek unity in drug fight

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

LON­DON:

With the Rus­sian dop­ing scan­dal still caus­ing bit­ter dis­cord across the in­ter­na­tional sports world, Olympic lead­ers meet to­day to con­sider ways of re­vamp­ing a global drug-test­ing sys­tem bat­tered by po­lit­i­cal dis­putes and a loss of pub­lic con­fi­dence.

The role of the World Anti-Dop­ing Agency, pro­pos­als for an in­de­pen­dent test­ing body and the con­tin­u­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion into state-backed Rus­sian dop­ing are ex­pected to be dis­cussed at the “Olympic Sum­mit” in Lau­sanne, Switzer­land.

The fin­ger-point­ing and blame game against WADA have ramped up re­cently, with sev­eral IOC mem­bers pub­licly blast­ing the or­ga­ni­za­tion for its han­dling of the Rus­sian dop­ing cri­sis. “There seems to be a lot of peo­ple who refuse to ac­cept that the base prob­lem was in­sti­tu­tional Rus­sian cheat­ing,” WADA Pres­i­dent Criag Reedie told The As­so­ci­ated Press. “WADA can­not and will not be held re­spon­si­ble for Rus­sian cheat­ing.” The In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee said of­fi­cials will de­bate ideas for “a more ro­bust, more ef­fi­cient and more in­de­pen­dent world­wide anti-dop­ing sys­tem,” in­clud­ing fur­ther talks on mak­ing the en­tire sys­tem “in­de­pen­dent from sports or­ga­ni­za­tions.”

“We will make rec­om­men­da­tions for WADA to im­prove in a very con­struc­tive way,” IOC Pres­i­dent Thomas Bach said. “We will ask WADA to take the or­ga­ni­za­tional mea­sures to per­form these tests in a more ef­fi­cient and more ro­bust way.”

The closed-door meet­ing, to be held at a lux­ury Lau­sanne ho­tel, will be at­tended by about 20 of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing IOC vice pres­i­dents, heads of ma­jor in­ter­na­tional sports fed­er­a­tions, and pres­i­dents of the US, Rus­sian and Chi­nese na­tional Olympic com­mit­tees.

It’s un­cer­tain whether the de­lib­er­a­tions will pro­duce con­crete de­ci­sions or sim­ply a set of broad prin­ci­ples ahead of an ex­tra­or­di­nary world con­fer­ence on dop­ing next year. “We need to re­ally prop­erly un­der­stand who is re­spon­si­ble for what,” IAAF Pres­i­dent Se­bas­tian Coe told the AP yes­ter­day. “We need to set­tle on ar­range­ments that sat­isfy the clean ath­letes. I’m not sure it’s any more com­pli­cated than that.” The del­e­gate with per­haps the most at stake is Reedie, whose agency has been harshly crit­i­cized by IOC mem­bers. The fall­out from WADA’s rec­om­men­da­tion to ban Rus­sia’s en­tire team from the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro- re­jected by the IOC - continues to roil the wa­ters and will hang over to­day’s dis­cus­sions.

A re­port by WADA in­ves­ti­ga­tor Richard McLaren de­tailed state-sup­ported dop­ing and cover-ups across dozens of win­ter and sum­mer Olympic sports in Rus­sia. It also backed al­le­ga­tions by Moscow’s for­mer lab direc­tor that dop­ing sam­ples of Rus­sian ath­letes were ma­nip­u­lated dur­ing the 2014 Win­ter Games in Sochi.

The IOC turned down WADA’s call to im­pose an out­right ban on Rus­sia from the Rio Games. The IOC de­ferred to in­di­vid­ual in­ter­na­tional sports fed­er­a­tions, and about 270 Rus­sian ath­letes wound up com­pet­ing in Rio. Bach said the de­ci­sion was made in the name of “jus­tice” to pre­vent clean ath­letes from be­ing pun­ished for the vi­o­la­tions of oth­ers.

The In­sti­tute of Na­tional Anti-Dop­ing Or­ga­ni­za­tions said Thurs­day the IOC “lost the anti-dop­ing bat­tle” be­fore the Rio Games, declar­ing: “The IOC failed the clean ath­letes of the world.”

McLaren is sched­uled to re­lease his fi­nal re­port by the end of the month, fo­cus­ing on the dop­ing ma­nip­u­la­tion in Sochi. Those find­ings could lead to dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tions, strip­ping of medals and calls for Rus­sia to be banned from 2018 Win­ter Games in Pyeongchang.

IOC mem­bers have ac­cused WADA of fail­ing to act soon enough on Rus­sian dop­ing and crit­i­cized the agency for re­leas­ing the McLaren re­port so close to the Rio Games. “We made a rec­om­men­da­tion when we got the (McLaren) re­port,” Reedie said in a tele­phone in­ter­view this week. “The IOC chose a dif­fer­ent de­ci­sion on el­i­gi­bil­ity. We’ve moved on. We need to move on to­gether with calm­ness and cool heads.” In the past few weeks, sev­eral IOC mem­bers - no­tably Juan An­to­nio Sa­ma­ranch Jr., Sergei Bubka and Ger­ardo Werthein - have pub­licly cas­ti­gated WADA.—AFP

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