Phelps wants ur­gent doping re­form

New Straits Times - - Sport -

US swim­ming leg­end Michael Phelps called for an ur­gent over­haul of global an­ti­dop­ing pro­ce­dures on Tues­day as the top Amer­i­can drug czar ac­cused the In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee of drag­ging their feet over re­form.

Phelps, the most dec­o­rated Olympic ath­lete of all time who re­tired af­ter last year’s Rio Games, told US law­mak­ers in­ves­ti­gat­ing doping on Capi­tol Hill that the IOC should make more re­sources avail­able to the World Anti-Doping Agency.

“In my opin­ion this is some­thing that needs to be han­dled to­day,” Phelps told the House En­ergy and Com­merce sub­com­mit­tee on over­sight and in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

“We need to find what­ever the way is to fig­ure out this is­sue. If that’s more money, it’s more money,” Phelps added.

Ques­tioned on how long it would take to achieve re­form, Phelps could not of­fer a time­frame but warned that doping scan­dals were “crush­ing” sport.

“That’s what’s frus­trat­ing to me as an ath­lete who spent over 20 years in the pool — I’m glad peo­ple are ac­tu­ally start­ing to take it se­ri­ously and take this in a se­ri­ous mat­ter,” Phelps said.

“Be­cause it is crush­ing sports for our youth and ev­ery­body else.”

Phelps was joined by 2004 Olympic shot put cham­pion Adam Nelson, who had to wait nine years to re­ceive his gold medal af­ter Ukrainian drug cheat Yuriy Bilonoh was stripped of the ti­tle af­ter a doping vi­o­la­tion in 2013.

Nelson gave moving tes­ti­mony over how he fi­nally re­ceived his gold medal, not in a packed Olympic sta­dium in front of a large crowd of roar­ing fans, but in an air­port fast food restau­rant.

“It came with a side of fries and a free toy,” Nelson quipped.

Later, the shot put vet­eran said re­form would need to en­com­pass chang­ing at­ti­tudes to­wards doping from the bot­tom up.

“I still know for a fact there are parts of the world where doping is part of the culture,” Nelson said.

United States Anti-Doping Agency chief Travis Ty­gart mean­while pin­pointed the over­lap be­tween the IOC and WADA as part of the prob­lem, call­ing for a clean sep­a­ra­tion of pow­ers be­tween the two bod­ies.

WADA’s foun­da­tion board and ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee con­tains more than 20 IOC mem­bers while the agency’s pres­i­dent Craig Reedie is also an IOC mem­ber.

“We at USADA have ad­vo­cated for a clear sep­a­ra­tion be­tween those who pro­mote sport and those who po­lice it,” Ty­gart said.

“To do so oth­er­wise, we be­lieve, is to en­cour­age the fox to guard the hen­house.”

Ty­gart said he be­lieved the Rus­sian doping scan­dal which rocked world sport last year would have been ex­posed sooner had WADA’s gov­er­nance “not been ham­strung by its own lack of true in­de­pen­dence.”

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