Anti-doping leaders want Russia excluded from Winter Games

ZURICH, (Reuters) – A group of the world’s leading national anti-doping organisations (NADOs) have called for the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) to be excluded from next year’s Winter Games in Pyeongchang over alleged state-sponsored doping.

In a joint statement issued on Thursday after a two-day meeting in Denver, the NADOs also criticised the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for “continuing failure in its obligations to clean sport.”

“A country’s sport leaders and organisations should not be given credentials to the Olympics when they intentionally violate the rules and rob clean athletes,” said the statement.

“This is especially unfair when athletes are punished when they violate the rules.”

ROC spokesman Konstantin Vybornov declined to comment. However, Stanislav Pozdnyakov, a vice-president, told R-Sport news agency that the committee regretted the statement.

“This is not the first time this group of anti-doping agencies fuels the hysteria over the Russian team’s participation in Pyeongchang,” he said.

He added that the statement “speaks to the lack of professionalism and the ignorance of the whole picture on the part of these respectable people.”

The NADO leaders said they were committed to providing “consistent criteria” to enable individual Russian athletes to compete as neutrals, as long as they had been subject to “robust anti-doping protocols.”

A World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) commission in 2015 found that more than 1,000 Russian competitors in more than 30 sports were involved in a conspiracy to conceal positive drug tests over a period of five years.

Russia escaped a blanket ban at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro although it was, and remains, barred from competing in athletics.

The statement was backed by anti-doping leaders from countries including Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the USA. It added that “the IOC needs to stop kicking the can down the road and immediately issue meaningful consequences.”

“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,” the statement said.

The IOC, which is holding a congress in Lima this week, did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

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