Sports / Olympic Games

Bach's IOC legacy rides on response

By Agencies (China Daily) Updated: 2016-07-20 07:50

Thomas Bach's response to a report that concluded Russia concealed hundreds of positive doping tests ahead of the 2014 Sochi Winter Games will determine his legacy as International Olympic Committee president, athletes said on Monday.

The IOC promised the "toughest sanctions available" following the release of the report, which revealed evidence of widespread state-sponsored doping by Russian athletes.

IOC athletes commission member Adam Pengilly, a British skeleton racer, urged Bach to follow the recommendation of the WADA report and ban all Russian competitors from the upcoming Rio Olympics.

"I call upon the leadership of the IOC to follow up on the recommendations and enact it, and not exploit technicalities," Pengilly said in a Monday conference call with members of the WADA athletes commission and the IOC athletes group.

Pengilly said the IOC "must step up and do what's right" or risk losing credibility.

"I think the world at large will look at us," he said. "The IOC is regarded as custodians of the Olympic movement. Only time will tell ... but it may be a significant part of the history of the IOC, and of Thomas Bach's time as its leader."

WADA athletes commission member Ben Sandford, a New Zealand skeleton racer, said: "That people have gone to such lengths to subvert results and cheat the system is extremely shocking and really saddening.

"It's a report that really needs to be acted on. It can't just disappear into the system. There has to be consequences now."

Sandford said it was unfortunate some clean Russian athletes might suffer from an Olympic ban but Russia has to face up to what was done.

"When you have a state-sponsored system which is running a doping program and also subverting results ... that's enormous. I think the Russians have to look at themselves. They are the ones to blame for the situation.

"They created this program and they should have to live with the consequences."

Hayley Wickenheiser, a Canadian women's ice hockey player and IOC commission member, said: "This is definitely a sad day for sport but possibly the biggest turning point for sport."

Host Brazil said it "hopes all countries" will take part at next month's Rio Games.

"I hope all countries and athletes will be present and the Brazilian government hopes that all will be present," said Brazilian sports minister Leonardo Picciani.

"Obviously, sport has its rules that must be respected," he added, saying it was up to the various sports' governing bodies and WADA to make a decision on each country's inclusion.

(China Daily 07/20/2016 page22)

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