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"No suggestion" of Aussie involvement in Beijing doping bans

Sport

Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates has not been notified of any Australian athlete caught doping by retrospective drug tests from the Beijing Games.

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Coates welcomed the re-testing of 454 doping samples from the 2008 Games, which has implicated 31 yet-to-be-identified Rio-bound athletes who could now be banned from competing in August’s Games.

Also speaking as an IOC vice-president, he expected that the 12 national Olympic committees involved had already started to been contacted, and confirmed Australia had heard nothing thus far.

“We haven’t been notified,” Coates said last night before the AOC’s official athletes farewell dinner in Sydney.

“I don’t know where these athletes come from, or what the sports are.

“This was a very targeted test, and what pleases the IOC with our zero-tolerance policy is that the testing is catching up.

“My mantra has always been `If we don’t get you at the Games, we’ll get you later’. That’s been validated.”

The Beijing re-testing was just the first step for the IOC, which is also set to conduct retrospective testing from the London 2012 Games and the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.

Coates said results of some 250 samples from London would come within the next week.

The IOC had called on the World Anti-Doping Agency to launch a “fully fledged investigation” into allegations that testing during the Sochi 2014 Games by the on-site accredited laboratory had been subverted.

The former head of Russia’s anti-doping agency Grigory Rodchenkov claimed last week that the Sochi lab had tampered with samples.

IOC president Thomas Bach said the re-tests were a “powerful strike against the cheats we do not allow to win”.

“The re-tests from Beijing and London and the measures we are taking following the worrying allegations against the laboratory in Sochi are another major step to protect the clean athletes, irrespective of any sport or any nation,” he said in a statement.

“By stopping so many doped athletes from participating in Rio we are showing once more our determination to protect the integrity of the Olympic competitions, including the Rio anti-doping laboratory, so that the Olympic magic can unfold in Rio de Janeiro.”

Australian Olympic great Ian Thorpe described retrospective testing as “a great thing”.

“For me it’s not dissimilar to what happens with DNA testing, where they go back and there’s people that may or may not have been convicted of a crime, and they can actually find them out now because of that procedure,” said Thorpe, a five-time Olympic gold medallist.

“So I’m glad they’re doing this, and I’m glad that 31 athletes competing there (in Beijing) have now been found to have cheated.”

Meanwhile, Bach says entire Russian sports federations could be suspended if allegations of state-supported doping at the Sochi Winter Games are proven.

Russia is at the heart of the biggest doping scandal in sport, with its track and field athletes suspended pending an investigation into allegations of widespread doping and their participation at August’s Rio Olympic Games in doubt.

Bach said in an op-ed piece overnight that accusations of Russian officials subverting the drug-testing system at the 2014 Games “represent a shocking new dimension in doping” and an “unimaginable level of criminality”.

He said if the allegations were found to be true, sanctions could include Olympic life bans, tough financial penalties and “suspension or exclusion of entire national federations” like the one already imposed by the IAAF on Russia’s track and field program.

Bach added that under such a scenario, athletes from affected nations may be required to prove their innocence rather than vice-versa.

“It (the IOC) would have to consider, whether in such ‘contaminated’ federations, the presumption of innocence for athletes could still be applied, whether the burden of proof could be reversed,” he wrote.

Russia’s sports ministry said overnight, Australian time, it fully supported IOC actions to bar athletes who doped from competitions, but said clean athletes should not be excluded from the Rio Games.

“We strongly believe that clean athletes, who have spent years of their lives training for the Games, should not be deprived of the right to participate,” the ministry said in its statement.

“Moreover, we are willing to fully cooperate with WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) in their investigation and we have officially informed WADA of this.”

 

-AAP, AP

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