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Olympics bosses torch WADA

Sport

An Olympic blowtorch has been put to the world’s anti-doping agency, with widespread calls for it to be revamped in the wake of the Russian doping scandal.

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International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach led a chorus of criticism of the World Anti-Doping Agency overnight, distancing the Olympic body from the Russian controversy.

Bach again blamed WADA for failing to act sooner on evidence of state-backed doping in Russia, saying it would be a travesty to make individual Russian athletes “collateral damage” for the wrongdoing of their government.

“The cynical collateral damage approach is not what the Olympic movement stands for,” Bach told the opening day of the IOC general assembly.

Bach appealed to the assembly to support the IOC executive board’s decision not to ban all Russians from the Rio Games, which open on Friday.

After a feisty two-hour debate, only one of the 85 members – Britain’s Adam Pengilly – voted against the executive board’s position.

Russian Olympic Committee president Alexander Zhukov was scathing of WADA.

“Why should WADA not bear responsibility for the violations made by the (Russian) anti-doping organisation it has accredited? They should,” Zhukov told the congress.

Zhukov believed there was a political campaign against Russia which could split the global Olympic family.

“We are witnessing direct interference of politics in sport… and attempts to influence the decision-making process by political means,” Zhukov said.

“The fundamental principles of the Olympic movement, basic human rights, the rights of an athlete and citizens, and independence and integrity of the Olympic family, are all under attack.

“This challenge is addressed not to Russia, it is addressed to the whole Olympic family.”

Zhukov described the IOC executive board’s decision not to ban the entire Russian team as “very fair”.

The IOC gave international sports federations the authority to rule on the entry of individual Russian athletes to the Rio Games, while also ruling out any Russian athlete with prior doping sanctions.

About 100 Russians, including the track and field team, have been banned from the Games and more than 250 have so far been cleared to compete.

Other IOC delegates also lashed WADA, with US Olympic Committee chairman Larry Probst saying “the current system is broken”.

Israeli Alex Gilady told his fellow IOC members: “In 2010, the whistleblower came to WADA. They said they didn’t know what to do with this.

“One has to scratch his head if WADA says they did not know what to do with whistleblowers who came to them with clear information, and just left it.”

Gilady was referring to Russian middle-distance runner Yulia Stepanova, who had written to WADA repeatedly offering evidence of state-backed doping but ended up providing the information to a German broadcaster, which produced several documentaries revealing the scandal.

-AAP

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