Sunday, July 24, 2016
Gorbachev urges IOC to let Russian athletes compete at Rio
Further 45 athletes fail dope tests after Beijing and London Olympics samples retested
Former Soviet Union president Mikhail Gorbachev: concerned that Russian athletes who are not culpable would be punished as well as those who are guilty. Photograph: Vasily Maximov/AFP/Getty Images
Mikhail Gorbachev has call on the International Olympic Committee to allow Russian athletes to compete at Rio 2016.
The former Soviet Union president has written to the IOC to plead the case of those who have not failed drugs tests and yet face possible bans from taking part in the Games.
The IAAF, world athletics’ governing body, banned the Russian track and field team last month and on Thursday that decision was rubber-stamped by the Court of Arbitration for Sport .
The Swiss-based body rejected an appeal against that ban by the Russian Olympic Committee and 68 individual athletes.
It followed a momentous week for world sport that started with the publication of a World Anti-Doping Agency- commissioned report into a state-directed doping conspiracy that went much further than athletics.
Gorbachev (85) wrote in the letter, posted on the Mikhail Gorbachev Foundation website: “Ladies and gentlemen, I am writing to ask you to take into account my position in ruling on admitting Russian athletes, as well as Paralympians, to participate in the Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro.
“I support the fight against the use of banned substances in sports. It is an evil that must be eradicated. The athletes whose use of doping has been proven must be banished from competition.
“I am deeply troubled by the fact that Russian citizens are among the officials and athletes who used doping and fraud for ‘victory at any price’. Serious conclusions should be drawn from this. It is necessary to conduct a thorough investigation, punish those responsible and take steps to prevent anything similar in the future. I am sure that this will be done.
“However, I am concerned and deeply saddened by the possibility that, in the event Russian athletes are banned from participating in the Olympics, persons not culpable would be punished as well as those who are guilty.
“I regard the principle of collective punishment as unacceptable. I am convinced that it is contrary to the culture of the Olympic movement, based on universal values, humanism and the principles of law.”
Forty-five athletes have failed dope tests after their samples from the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2012 London Games were reanalysed, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said yesterday.
The results are from a second wave of retests and take the total number of athletes who tested positive for prohibited substances to 98, the IOC added in a statement.
Of the 45 failed tests announced on Friday, 30 were from Beijing, including 23 medallists, and 15 were from London. The IOC did not say if any of the London athletes had won medals.
“The new reanalysis once again shows the commitment of the IOC in the fight against doping,” IOC President Thomas Bach said.
The IOC stores samples for a decade in order to retest using newer methods or to look for new drugs. The results are part of its retesting of samples from past games to keep cheats from competing in Rio in August.
The athletes are being informed, after which proceedings against them can begin. All athletes found to have infringed anti-doping rules will be banned from competing at the Rio Olympics.
The failed tests will raise further speculation about the extent of doping at the Games, just weeks before the Rio Olympics starts.
Doping scandals have plagued the build-up to the world’s biggest multisports event, with Russia potentially facing a complete Games ban following the publication of the McLaren report on Monday.