Olympics

IOC chief: Weed out drug cheats before Sochi Games begin

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ROME (AP)

IOC President Thomas Bach urged national Olympic committees Friday to weed out drug cheats before the Winter Games in Sochi in February, warning that a positive test would taint the image of an entire team.

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"Please, speak with your national anti-doping agencies. Speak with your governments. Speak with your national federations," Bach said in a speech to the European Olympic Committees general assembly. "And perform pre-competition testing and make sure that you, as national Olympic committees, that you can be proud of your team in the end.

"You can win as many medals as you want in the Olympic Games," Bach added. "But if you have a doping case by one of your successful athletes, the image of your (entire) team is tainted ... So it is in your own interest to arrive in Sochi with clean athletes."

Bach said pre-competition tests for the Feb. 7-23 Sochi Games have been increased by 57 percent and overall tests will be up by 40 percent from the last Winter Olympics in Vancouver in 2010.

"So we really want to make a great effort with regard to anti-doping with quantity and -- even more important -- quality," said Bach, who was elected 10 weeks ago to succeed Jacques Rogge. "We will have more targeted tests, based on profiles and intelligence we get from national anti-doping agencies, federations and NOCs."

Bach applauded the initiatives made at last week's World Anti-Doping Agency conference in South Africa and added that more anti-doping measures will be discussed at the next IOC executive board meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Dec. 10.

Bach also reiterated that Russian President Vladimir Putin had assured him that, despite the country's law banning gay "propaganda," there would be no discrimination in Sochi.

 

ON THE SCENE

Skier Lindsey Vonn is airlifted off the slopes after a super-G crash in February 2013. See photos.

"He assured us once more that the principals of the Olympic Charter will apply for all participants and at all the venues and that there will be no discrimination whatsoever, that all athletes and participants regardless of their race, sexual orientation, culture or any other form," Bach said.

"I think this was an important re-assurance from our Russian hosts and we are looking forward to enjoy this Russian hospitality," the IOC president said.

During his half-hour speech, Bach also discussed tweaking the process of bidding for the Olympics, seeking to cut costs and put fewer requirements on potential host cities at the start. Earlier this month, voters in Bach's home country rejected a proposed Munich bid for the 2022 Winter Games, citing financial and environmental concerns.

"We have to ask ourselves if we ask too much too early for potential bidders and whether we should not create a more invitational procedure to potential bidders that they should inform us how they see the Olympic Games fitting into their local development, into their long-term planning," he said.

"In this way we could create and have more creativity in the Olympic bidding procedure. We would have more diversity in the organization of the games," Bach added. "We would insure that the population is supporting these games and we could in this way also attract more bidders worldwide."

Bach was meeting later Friday with Pope Francis.

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