head says IOC decision on Russia critical to anti-doping fight
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[November 30, 2017]
By Brian Homewood
EINDHOVEN, Netherlands (Reuters) - The
head of the umbrella group of national anti-doping agencies told
Reuters that allowing Russia to compete at the 2018 Winter Games
would be "a missed opportunity" which would raise doubts about
sport's willingness to root out drug cheats.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is due to decide next week
whether Russia can take part in Pyeongchang and iNADO chief
executive Joseph de Pencier said that its decision would be critical
to anti-doping efforts.
A World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) report by Canadian law profession
Richard McLaren published last year found evidence of widespread,
systematic doping across Russian sport.
Russia has repeatedly denied state involvement in doping and on
Wednesday the Kremlin said bans on the country's athletes were part
of an anti-Russian campaign in the West.
"If they don't exclude the Russian Olympic Committee, then I think
it's a huge mistake and a wasted opportunity," de Pencier said on
the sidelines of a sports conference
"It's obviously a critical decision for the IOC. If the IOC get this
wrong, they set back the work of all of us.
"They create doubts about clean sport and the willingness of the
anti-doping community to make sure the job is done, and the
commitment of sport as a whole to clean competition and clean
"If that happens, my members are going to be dealing with their
governments, their press and their public asking how they can
believe in clean sport."
De Pencier said he could accept an arrangement where Russian
athletes competed as neutrals as "something we can live with" but
personally preferred a blanket ban, even if it meant innocent
athletes suffered the consequences.
PUNISHING TOO MANY
Dmitry Svishchev, who is head of the Russian curling federation and
serves on the Russian parliament's sport and physical culture
committee, urged the IOC "not to go for provocation".
[to top of second column]
"We admit that there are some athletes, like anywhere in the world,
who have taken banned substances. They need to be punished for
this," he told Reuters.
"But in no case should the whole national team, all the athletes who
are preparing for the Olympic Games, all the spectators and fans of
the Russian team be punished for the actions of some individuals."
With Russia hosting next year's soccer World Cup, de Pencier urged
FIFA to "get to the bottom" of its own investigation into an
allegation in the McLaren report that soccer was among the sports
involved in doping.
"FIFA absolutely has to investigate this as an urgent matter and
they have got to do it in good faith and with a will. Otherwise,
they run the risk of having a big cloud over their event," he said
"They have every incentive to get to the bottom of this and do it as
quickly as possible."
Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko this month described
reports of doping among Russian soccer players as "stupidity".
FIFA, which could not be reached for comment, has said that no
Russians failed doping tests at either the last World Cup or Euro
De Pencier added that FIFA should not be afraid of expelling Russia
from its own tournament.
"Any multi-national sporting competition can carry on without a
particular country being there, why couldn't the World Cup in
Russia? I acknowledge as a practical matter it's hard to imagine
that scenario and also the consequences that might cause, but why
not?" he said.
(Additonal reporting by Gabrielle Tetrault-Farber in Moscow; Editing
by John O'Brien)
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