Doping Summit Won't Meet Goals!

Doping Summit Won't Meet Goals!
Posted by FoM on February 03, 1999 at 10:58:21 PT

LAUSANNE, Switzerland The world doping summit fell short of two of its prime goals today -- finalize the creation of an international anti-drug agency and impose uniform drug penalties in all sports. 
With key governments insisting that the International Olympic Committee stay out of the doping agency's leadership, the committee was attacked by some of its own members on how to reform its scandal-ridden program of picking Olympic host cities. The open disputes left the IOC struggling to come to any concrete resolutions by the end of the meeting Thursday. In a new slap to the embattled International Olympic Committee, the United States and the 15-nation European Union joined in demanding that the IOC renounce control of the proposed agency. ``Any control by the IOC would obviate its independence and destroy its credibility,'' said Dr. Donald Vereen, the deputy director of U.S. National Drug Control Policy. British Minister of Sport Tony Banks said the EU unanimously rejected the IOC proposal that it lead the proposed agency. ``The composition and functions should be subject to urgent consultations,'' said Banks. The call for talks could set the establishment of the agency back by as much as five month, an EU official said. Even the IOC's top drug official said there would be no final word on the doping agency out of this meeting. ``Perhaps we can agree on the principle of an agency but at the end of the meeting you will not have an agency decided in detail,'' IOC drug chief Prince Alexandre de Merode said. The goal of setting a mandatory minimum two-year ban for serious drug offenses also faded under the pressure of major sports federations, who argued such bans would inevitably be struck down by civil courts. It also showed how the different sports organizations totally disagreed on the issue. Meanwhile, in a new blow to IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch, rank-and-file members rejected plans to strip them of voting rights in the selection of Olympic host cities. ``If we have some bad apples, they should be thrown out, but don't tell us the whole general assembly is corrupt,'' Italian IOC member Mario Pescante said. Pescante said 42 IOC members had a breakfast meeting with IOC executive board members to discuss the proposed new voting procedure for the 2006 Winter Games that would place the final decision with a 15-member panel rather than the full committee. An ``overwhelming majority'' of the members came out against the plan, Pescante said. ``For the first time in the history of the Olympic movement, the voice of the members is very, very loud,'' Pescante told The Associated Press. FIFA, the world soccer federation, insisted it would never bow to a two-year sanction. The IOC relented. ``My response to FIFA is 'yes,''' said Judge Keba Mbaye, who headed an IOC group on the sanctions issue. He said FIFA would be allowed to apply suspensions under two years. The IOC had threatened last year to kick federations out the Olympics if they refused to back the two-year ban. Cycling had also questioned the wisdom of a two-year sanction. Track chief Primo Nebiolo, representing the 28 Summer Olympic federations, offered a compromise under which federations would be able to cite ``exceptional circumstances'' in applying bans of less than two years. Marc Hodler, leader of the seven winter sports federations, backed Nebiolo's proposal. The move to soften the two-year sanction upset leading athletes, including former Olympic champions Johann Olav Koss and Sebastian Coe. ``We have to hold our nerve, we have to hold the line,'' said Coe, the two-time Olympic 1,500-meter champion from Britain. Germany's Roland Baar, a member of the IOC's athletes' committee, suggested soccer should be kicked out of the Olympics if it can't accept a two-year sanction. ``If soccer, or whoever, cannot accept the IOC rules, then they cannot be part of the IOC. It's a very simple thing,'' Baar said. Finger pointing and raw criticism continued to dominate the meeting as much as calls for a unified stance on doping. European delegates lashed out at the United States for making proposals for thorough reform, saying it was seeking the high moral ground while it was unable to control the doping issue at home. ``They should not take the others for being naive and small people,'' said French Olympic Committee president Henri Serandour. ``They should stop giving us lessons. They want to appear whiter than white.'' Coe also criticized the U.S. position. ``I say to those countries you can have a contribution to make to the debate, but come to the table after you have first cleared your own backyard,'' he said. Coe cited the case of U.S. sprinter Dennis Mitchell. Coe noted that Mitchell escaped a doping ban on grounds that his positive test for testosterone was the result of having sex and drinking beer the night before. ``This stretches confidence and credibility to the breaking point,'' Coe said. Even Hein Verbruggen, head of the world cycling federation, joined the criticism even though his sport was battered by doping scandals at the Tour de France last July. The IOC was scrambling to save its highly touted world conference from failure on other fronts, seeking to revise some of its maligned proposals. ``They were projects, not decisions,'' said de Merode, adding compromises would be drafted during the session. Hopes that the doping conference would restore some status to the IOC were dashed almost as soon as the meeting opened. Some criticized the conference for being nothing more than a chat room where little could be achieved. ``We are the biggest federation with 240 million members and we get three minutes to talk,'' said FIFA medical chief Michel D'Hooghe. ``This is ridiculous.'' The agency to coordinate random drug testing and other doping control matters around the globe was slipping from the IOC's grasp. The United States and the 15-nation European Union both objected to core issues within the IOC proposals forcing de Merode to give up any hope of finding enough compromise to set up the structure of the agency. De Merode conceded the proposal on the doping of the agency was badly drafted and had caused unnecessary discord. ``There were small errors in the document. It happens.'' 
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