US Olym­pic chiefs sup­port bob­sled move, but op­pose boy­cotts

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

United States Olym­pic chiefs backed a de­ci­sion to move next year’s bob­sleigh and skele­ton world cham­pi­onships out of Rus­sia on Tues­day but said the or­gan­i­sa­tion re­mained op­posed to boy­cotts of fu­ture events in the drug-tar­nished coun­try.

The In­ter­na­tional Bob­sleigh and Skele­ton Fed­er­a­tion on Tues­day an­nounced it was with­draw­ing the Fe­bru­ary cham­pi­onships from Rus­sia in the wake of the fi­nal in­stall­ment last week of a damn­ing re­port by pro­fes­sor Richard McLaren into Russian dop­ing.

United States Olym­pic Com­mit­tee chief ex­ec­u­tive Scott Black­mun told re­porters the IBSF had made the right de­ci­sion fol­low­ing wide­spread un­ease among ath­letes due to com­pete in Rus­sia. “We fully sup­port the de­ci­sion bob­sled made to­day,” Black­mun told re­porters on a con­fer­ence call.

“It seemed like the right thing to do given how strongly the ath­letes felt about go­ing to Rus­sia.”

How­ever Black­mun said that while USOC sup­ported strip­ping Rus­sia of the cham­pi­onships, the or­gan­i­sa­tion re­mained op­posed to “sport-by-sport” boy­cotts of other events.

“I don’t think we sup­port a boy­cott of any kind,” Black­mun said. “At the end of the day our ath­letes need to have the op­por­tu­nity to be well-in­formed and make de­ci­sions about where they com­pete. “It’s not our job as an NOC (Na­tional Olym­pic Com­mit­tee) to make de­ci­sions about in­ter­na­tional events.” The McLaren re­port, which had been com­mis­sioned by the World An­tiDop­ing Agency, de­tailed a vast drug scan­dal in Rus­sia that in­volved more than 1,000 Russian ath­letes across 30 sports in a state-backed dop­ing pro­gramme. Black­mun de­scribed the re­port’s find­ings as “stunning” and called on a uni­fied re­sponse to ad­dress the is­sue of drugs in sport. “We need to move with a sense of ur­gency. I think that’s im­por­tant. We need to make sure that we have the in­ter­na­tional fed­er­a­tions, and the NOCs, and WADA, and na­tional gov­ern­ments all on the same page,” Black­mun said.

“It’s not a sim­ple is­sue. If you asked ev­ery­body how the sys­tem works to­day I’m not sure you’d get a con­sis­tent re­sponse, even from in­formed stake­hold­ers. So I think it’s im­por­tant that we take what we’ve learned from the McLaren Re­port and ap­ply it to the fu­ture. “This is not just an is­sue in one coun­try. It’s an is­sue around the world and it’s go­ing to re­quire that ev­ery­body around the world makes an in­vest­ment in try­ing to en­sure that clean ath­letes can com­pete cleanly.”

Mean­while USOC chair­man Larry Probst said the com­mit­tee was look­ing for­ward to work­ing with the ad­min­is­tra­tion of US Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump, who re­cently called In­ter­na­tional Olym­pic Com­mit­tee chief Thomas Bach to ex­press sup­port for Los Angeles’ bid for the 2024 Sum­mer Games. “He’s very ex­cited about the thought of hav­ing the Olym­pic Games in the United States in 2024,” Probst said of Trump. “I think we’ve got a fan who will be in the White House... and that’s a good thing.” — AFP

NEW YORK: Artemi Pa­narin #72 of the Chicago Black­hawks tries to keep the puck as Kevin Hayes #13 of the New York Rangers de­fends on De­cem­ber 13, 2016 at Madi­son Square Gar­den in New York City. — AFP

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