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Anti-Doping Organizations Call For Russia To Be Banned From 2018 Winter Olympics


Craig Reedie (right), president of the World Anti-Doping Agency, and Olivier Niggli, its director-general (file photo)

Leaders from 17 national anti-doping organizations (NADO) have called for Russia to be banned from the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.

Following a two-day meeting in the U.S. state of Colorado, the group said on September 14 that Russia must be punished for “proven corruption of the Sochi Olympic Games and continuing failure in its obligations to clean sport."

In their strongly worded statement, the NADO leaders also said that the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) "refusal to hold Russia accountable for one of the biggest scandals in sports history...imperils clean athletes and the future of the Olympic movement."

They also warned they had "serious doubts" that the February Pyeongchang games would be clean "due to the incomplete investigation of massive evidence of individual doping by Russians athletes at the 2014 Sochi [Winter Olympics] and given the inadequate testing evidence of Russian athletes over the past four years."

The NADO leaders came from Austria, Australia, Britain, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, Sweden, the United States, plus the Institute of National Anti-Doping Organizations.

In July 2016, an independent report commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) concluded that more than 1,000 Russians benefited from the doping program across 30 sports and found evidence of state-sponsored doping in Russia.

The IOC is yet to decide on any sanctions. There has been speculation that Russia could face a heavy fine, escaping a ban.

The IOC did not follow a WADA recommendation for all Russian athletes to be barred from the Rio 2016 Olympics, instead leaving decisions on whether Russians could compete to individual sporting federations.

In total, 271 Russians competed in Rio.

The head of the Russian Olympic Committee, Aleksandr Zhukov, said in an interview with the Associated Press on September 14 that he is not worried about his athletes missing the winter games.

"They're preparing. I understand all of them are going to Pyeongchang," said Zhukov, who is also a member of the International Olympic Committee.

Zhukov's lack of concern about Russian athletes being banned from the Winter Olympics prompted Travis Tygart, the head of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency who joined the call for a ban on Russian athletes, to tell AP: "It wouldn't surprise me at all if the fix is in already, just like in Rio. We're right back in the same situation, where even if the evidence is a slam dunk, they're not going to have time to make it have any meaningful consequence."

Earlier this week, media reports revealed that of 96 cases among athletes implicated in the Russian doping program, 95 have been closed due to a lack of hard evidence.

"It's absolutely in line with the process, and frankly, it's nothing unexpected," WADA Director-General Olivier Niggli told AP.

However, the NADO leaders said on September 14 that the 95 cases “appear to have been shut prematurely before the IOC or international federations have obtained complete evidence from the Moscow laboratory or interviewed the relevant witnesses."

"The mishandling of this Russia doping crisis has left the athletes of the world wondering if global anti-doping regulations have teeth and whether their fundamental right to clean sport matters," they added.

With reporting by dpa, AP, and the BBC
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