AP Interview: Rogge backs cycling's Olympic status

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Cycling's place in the Olympics is secure despite the doping scandals and investigations surrounding the sport, IOC president Jacques Rogge said Friday.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Rogge said international cycling federation UCI is among the Olympic sports bodies doing the most to combat the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

''There is no discussion on the place of the UCI in the Olympic Games,'' he said. ''As long as a sport is working hard, it deserves a place. Otherwise, you throw out the baby with the bath water.''

Rogge welcomed the U.S. federal probe into doping in professional cycling, including allegations against seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong.

''We should welcome anything that can bring to the fore doping issues,'' Rogge said in a telephone interview.

Floyd Landis, a former teammate of Armstrong, has accused him and other riders of systematic drug use. Landis won the Tour de France in 2006, but was stripped of his title for doping. Armstrong - who won a bronze medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics - has vehemently denied doping.

''You have to respect the presumption of innocence,'' Rogge said. ''Lance Armstrong has not had a positive test in his career. There are allegations of all sides. These are allegations that have yet to be proven. You have to wait and see what comes out of it.''

Questions have been raised for years over whether the doping-riddled sport should remain in the Olympics. But Rogge said kicking the sport out of the games would only penalize the clean athletes.

''It does not bring you further,'' he said.

Rogge said the UCI conducts the third most anti-doping tests behind the IAAF and FIFA, was the first federation to implement blood profiling and implements tough sanctions on riders and teams.

''They deserve to be supported,'' Rogge said. ''They have to continue to work hard. Yes, there has been a cultural problem in cycling about doping, which we hope is now over. As long as they fight hard against it, they deserve their place.''

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