Doping in sport extends far beyond the scandal engulfing Russia and is a threat to the entire Olympic movement as the Rio Games approach, the US Olympic Committee chief executive said Thursday.
Scott Blackmun, USOC chairman Larry Probst and other officials said doping was a major topic at the USOC board meeting this week in Omaha, where the US Olympic swimming trials are under way.
“I think the idea at play here is that the system is broken,” Blackmun said. “The system needs to be fixed.
“This is a threat to the very meaning of the Olympic movement and I think that whether it’s more independence or more quality around the globe regarding how doping rules are enforced, there’s a lot of room for progress.”
Probst said he backs the idea floated by International Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach of a reimagined global anti-doping agency that would operate independently of sports organizations and would have greater investigative powers than the World Anti-Doping Agency currently enjoys.
“I support that initiative and I would urge all those (Olympic) constituencies to come together sooner rather than later to get on that track,” Probst said.
Athletics world governing body the IAAF voted in June to maintain Russia’s suspension over evidence of state-sponsored doping in the sport, leaving the door ajar for just a few Russian athletes proven to be clean to compete in Rio in August as neutrals.
WADA has also commissioned an investigation into recent claims made by Russian laboratory director Grigory Rodchenkov in The New York Times that anti-doping procedures were subverted at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.
If that report confirms systematic doping by Russia in other sports, Blackmun said, he would support further bans of the country’s competitors.
“I think we have to wait and see what the commission report says when it comes out in the middle of July,” Blackmun said.
“We fully support the actions taken by the IAAF and to the extent that there is evidence that other sportswere involved in that, we would certainly hope that other (International Federations) would take similar action to the IAAF.”
Certainly the vast majority of swimmers and coaches at the US trials voiced confidence that competitors emerging to represent America in Rio would be clean — even if they couldn’t say the same for those of other countries.
Blackmun and Probst said it’s wrong to paint Russia as the only culprits.
“We have our own share of doping problems in the United States,” Blackmun said. – Agence France-Presse