Russia at Rio risks harming Olympic movement: Australia

By: | Published: July 25, 2016 9:26 AM

The Australian government has questioned the International Olympic Committee's leadership in the fight against doping in sport.

Rio Olympics LAustralian government has questioned the International Olympic Committee?s leadership in the fight against doping in sport and said Russia?s participation at the Rio de Janeiro Games risks damaging the reputation of the Olympic movement. (Reuters)

 

The Australian government has questioned the International Olympic Committee’s leadership in the fight against doping in sport and said Russia’s participation at the Rio de Janeiro Games risks damaging the reputation of the Olympic movement.

The IOC rejected calls for Russia to be banned from next month’s Games over its doping record on Sunday, putting the onus on international sports federations to decide whether individual athletes should be allowed to compete.

The decision has been endorsed by some national Olympic committees but drew criticism from athletes and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which said it would “inevitably lead to … lesser protection for clean athletes.”

Australian sports minister Sussan Ley, a member of the WADA executive committee, said evidence of state-sponsored doping in Russia “cannot be ignored”.

“The fight against doping in sport requires strong international leadership, none more so in this case, where the integrity of an entire Olympic and Paralympic Games is at stake,” Ley said in a statement on Monday.

“I maintain the view that any actions less than what WADA has recommended at this critical point in time risks Rio being overshadowed by a contagious suspicion of compromised integrity and damaging the reputation of the Olympic movement.”

The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC), whose president John Coates is also an IOC vice-president, backed the IOC decision in a statement out of Rio on Sunday.

Ley, however, said she would urgently seek the AOC’s reassurance that Australian athletes would not be “negatively impacted or unfairly disadvantaged by this decision.”

“The Australian Government continues to strongly support WADA’s recommendations that the IOC, International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and International Sporting Federations each take definitive action within their respective powers to decline entries of all athletes submitted by the Russian Olympic and Paralympic Committees,” she added.

The IOC decision was endorsed by New Zealand’s Olympic committee, which said the international body had taken the “strongest possible measures”.
But the country’s national anti-doping agency was scathing.

“The decision of the IOC to not take matters into their own hands but pass on the hot potato to International Federations shows a lack of will to back the core principles of their organisation with hard decisions,” said Drug Free Sport New Zealand chief executive Graeme Steel.
International sports federations have less than two weeks to decide whether to allow Russian athletes to compete at the Aug. 5-21 Games.
“Many international federations will have neither the time nor capacity to make the quick and clear decisions necessary let alone do it in a consistent way,” added Steel.

After last week’s release of the WADA-instigated McLaren Report, which confirmed allegations of Russian state-sponsored doping at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, IOC President Thomas Bach said his committee would not hesitate to take “the toughest sanctions available”.

“Looking back on what President Bach was saying originally, I was expecting a little tougher penalty,” Japan Olympic Committee director Ichiro Hoshino said in comments published by Kyodo news agency on Monday.

“I infer that in reality he had to settle for the verdict after taking everything into account.”

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