German federation asks IOC to exclude Russia, Kenya from Rio
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) – The head of Germany’s track and field federation urged the IOC on Friday to keep Russian and Kenyan athletes out of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, even if they pass pre-games doping tests.
DLV president Clemens Prokop said testing athletes between now and the games is “inept” because the main effects of doping would have been felt during training periods months ago, when proper procedures were not in place in Russia and Kenya.
In an open letter to the International Olympic Committee’s German president, Thomas Bach, Prokop said he was acting at the request of German track and field athletes demanding a level playing field.
“I kindly ask you to take athletes’ concerns seriously and to use all possible means for ensuring fair competitions and equality of opportunity in Rio,” the letter said.
Christian Klaue, the IOC’s head of communications for German-speaking countries, said a reply had been sent to the German federation but that the IOC did not plan to publish it.
“As you know it is our view that everything has to be done to ensure a level playing field for the clean athletes,” Klaue said in an email.
The Russian track and field federation was suspended by the IAAF in November following a World Anti-Doping Agency panel’s report detailing rampant and state-supported doping in Russia.
The IAAF’s ruling council meets next Friday in Vienna to decide whether or not to lift the ban ahead of the Rio Games. Bach has called a summit of sports leaders four days later, on June 21, that could potentially open the way for those Russian athletes deemed “clean” to go to the games, even if the IAAF upholds its ban.
Bach has said the issue involves a choice between “individual justice” and “collective responsibility.” Several top Olympic officials have said it would be unjust to ban those Russian athletes who have never been accused or implicated in doping.
Prokop’s letter said “some leaders” of global sports apparently are considering allowing Russian athletes who pass tests to compete in Rio even if their federation remains suspended.
“It is obvious that the IOC’s announcement to double the number of doping controls prior to Rio and in particular to have them carried out in countries like Russia and Kenya has to be seen in the light of the above,” he said.
Prokop said his letter was meant to address “the discussion about the eligibility of athletes from countries whose doping control systems do not comply with the worldwide standard” set by the World Anti-Doping Agency.
Both Russia and Kenya are currently declared non-complaint with WADA’s global code.
Prokop said the biggest performance-enhancing effects from doping are achieved during “training peaks,” which for the Rio Games would have been in the fall of 2015 and this spring.
“A level playing field at the competitions in Rio requires that a deterrent control system was operational during these relevant periods,” the letter said. “The time period immediately preceding the Olympic Games is only of secondary relevance when trying to benefit from doping effects.”
Any tests carried out between now and the games are “inept” and will “never restore the level playing field in athletics,'” Prokop said.
Citing media reports, the letter said “some countries” had no control system complying with WADA’s requests during the peak training times relevant for doping.
“Should athletes from such countries be allowed to compete in Rio, DLV athletes see their right ti equal treatment and equal opportunity blatantly violated, because there is no reassurance whatsoever that their competitor has not used prohibited substances during the time in question,” the letter said.
Addressing Bach and his promise to “protect clean athletes,” the letter said the IOC’s retests of doping samples from the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2012 London Games “have shown that the principle of equality of opportunity has not always been enforced.”
The IOC has reported 55 positive findings in the retesting program so far. The Russian Olympic Committee has said 22 of the cases involved Russian athletes, including medalists.
“This not only constitutes a betrayal of athletes, but also a betrayal of the IOC and the Olympic ideals,” Prokop said.