Rus­sia dop­ing ten­sion marks fi­nal day of IOC meet­ings

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

The raw feel­ings cre­ated by the Rus­sian dop­ing scan­dal spilled onto the floor and into the hall­ways of the In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee meet­ings Friday, with less than five months un­til the Win­ter Games and still no de­ci­sions made about the fate of the coun­try’s ath­letes.

IOC mem­bers re­ceived up­dates on two in­ves­ti­ga­tions that will even­tu­ally de­ter­mine Rus­sia’s sta­tus: One on whether there was a state-spon­sored dop­ing pro­gram in the coun­try, the other on the in­di­vid­ual cases of ath­letes who were im­pli­cated in the scan­dal at the Sochi Games in 2014.

The lead­ers of both in­ves­ti­ga­tions, which are us­ing in­for­ma­tion from an ear­lier in­quiry by Richard McLaren, urged pa­tience and in­sisted they are work­ing as fast as they can. Still, a hand­ful of IOC mem­bers made clear they’re wor­ried about the tim­ing. “A lot of progress has been made, but we’re not there yet,” said Camiel Eurlings, an IOC mem­ber from the Nether­lands. “I un­der­stand it takes a lot of time, but we can­not have this dis­cus­sion just be­fore the Pyeongchang Games. It must be clear months be­fore.”

In an­other re­port, IOC mem­ber Craig Reedie, who heads the World An­tiDop­ing Agency, said progress is be­ing made to­ward re­in­stat­ing Rus­sia’s sus­pended anti-dop­ing agency. Rus­sian IOC mem­ber Alexan­der Zhukov was en­cour­aged. He re­it­er­ated what he told The As­so­ci­ated Press this week - he ex­pects Rus­sia to field a team in Pyeongchang: Asked if a state-spon­sored dop­ing pro­gram ex­isted in Rus­sia, his an­swer was, sim­ply: “no.”

Rus­sia’s un­will­ing­ness to ac­knowl­edge the state-spon­sored pro­gram is a problem, as it is a re­quire­ment for reen­try into the sports world on many fronts - no­tably its anti-dop­ing agency, track team and Par­a­lympic team. IOC Pres­i­dent Thomas Bach called it “only a small part” of the equa­tion.

STATE-SPON­SORED DOP­ING PRO­GRAM

“It can be sym­bolic,” he said. “But an ad­mis­sion alone can­not help you for­get what’s hap­pened in the past.” Urged by Bach, the IOC re­fused to ban the en­tire Rus­sian team from the Rio Games and in­stead sent the in­di­vid­ual cases to the in­ter­na­tional sports fed­er­a­tions, which had only a mat­ter of days to de­ter­mine the sta­tus of hun­dreds of ath­letes. More than 280 Rus­sians par­tic­i­pated, and given ev­i­dence of the state-spon­sored, sys­temic dop­ing pro­gram in the coun­try, there were howls of protest across the globe. Not want­ing to see a re­peat, a group of 17 anti-dop­ing lead­ers re­leased a state­ment Thurs­day call­ing for a com­plete ban of the Rus­sian Olympic Com­mit­tee from Pyeongchang. That ir­ri­tated some IOC mem­bers, es­pe­cially Reedie, who took time in his pre­sen­ta­tion to as­sail the lead­ers.

“The com­ments made ... omit en­tirely all the work that’s been done to de­velop proper anti-dop­ing sys­tems in Rus­sia,” Reedie said. “It looks back­ward in­stead of look­ing for­ward. I want to make it quite clear that most of what they say in their press re­lease is not poli- cy, and is not help­ful.” One of the au­thors of that re­lease, Travis Ty­gart of the US Anti-Dop­ing Agency, re­sponded in an email to the AP: “Yeah, clearly, the truth can strike a re­ac­tion, but to be clear, the only thing un­help­ful is the lack of de­ci­sive ac­tion in fully pro­tect­ing clean ath­letes’ rights.”

De­nis Oswald, the IOC mem­ber look­ing into the in­di­vid­ual cases, said his com­mit­tee has been “work­ing hard since Day 1.” “But when you have a pile of doc­u­ments like this,” he said, while hold­ing his hands sev­eral feet apart, “and you have (so) many cases in­volved, it takes time. You have to re­spect the pro­ce­dure. You can’t just say they were in Sochi and they are Rus­sian and they prob­a­bly were doped.”

The McLaren Re­port said the dop­ing scheme in­volved 1,000 ath­letes cov­er­ing 30 sports, both win­ter and sum­mer.

Oswald spelled out a clearly de­fined rank­ing of the im­por­tance of the cases, start­ing with Rus­sian ath­letes try­ing to com­pete in next year’s Olympics. He said he hoped to have much of the work com­pleted by Novem­ber, which would give the IOC and other gov­ern­ing bod­ies three months to sort out el­i­gi­bil­ity.

The other re­port - about whether state-spon­sored dop­ing ex­ists, as shown in both McLaren’s re­search and a pre­vi­ous in­ves­ti­ga­tion by IOC mem­ber Dick Pound - is also on track to be done be­fore the Olympics, and Bach said it has to be. Be­cause that looks at the en­tire op­er­a­tion and not the cases of in­di­vid­ual ath­letes, it fig­ures to be an even more dif­fi­cult is­sue for the IOC to sort out.

The di­rec­tor of the IOC’s med­i­cal and sci­ence depart­ment, Richard Bud­gett, ex­plained some of the de­lays come down to sim­ple math: For in­stance, he said it takes about three hours to ex­am­ine each urine-sam­ple bot­tle to de­ter­mine whether tam­per­ing has oc­curred. Key to Rus­sia’s scheme at the Sochi Games was a plan in which of­fi­cials opened bot­tles con­tain­ing tainted urine, traded it with clean urine and re­sealed the bot­tles with­out any­one dis­cov­er­ing they had been com­pro­mised. — AP

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