IOC’s Bach calls Olympic summit
Setting out the Olympic priorities for his new administration, IOC President Thomas Bach convened a summit of sports leaders Sunday to review the fight against doping, match-fixing and illegal betting.
The meeting, attended by senior IOC officials and heads of key international sports federations and national Olympic committees, was called without public notice and held behind closed doors at International Olympic Committee headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.
The summit underlined how quickly Bach is moving to take charge since being elected as Jacques Rogge’s successor on Sept. 10 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Earlier this week, Bach traveled to Sochi, Russia, where he met with President Vladimir Putin and checked on preparations for the 2014 Winter Games.
Sunday’s summit was the second so-called "Olympic movement coordination meeting," following talks held in Lausanne earlier this year under Rogge’s leadership.
The delegates backed the IOC executive board’s decision in August to nominate British IOC vice president Craig Reedie as the next president of the World Anti-Doping Agency. Reedie will take over on Jan. 1 from former Australian government minister John Fahey, with his appointment to be formally accepted at the World Conference on Doping in Sport in Johannesburg later this month.
The meeting also endorsed the IOC’s proposed revisions of the World Anti-Doping Code, including an increase in doping suspensions from two years to four years. The tougher penalty will keep dopers out of at least one Olympics.
The delegates also called on WADA to "strengthen its role in research and as a service organization." Some sports have complained that WADA has overstepped its role by criticizing and giving orders to federations, rather than serving its own needs.
The leaders called for closer cooperation between international federations and national anti-doping bodies, as well as between doping organizations and national governments.
On a separate issue, the IOC agreed to set up a special unit to coordinate efforts against match-fixing and illegal betting — issues which were at the top of Rogge’s agenda and which Bach has promised to keep working on.
"This unit will work on risk prevention and the dissemination of information, and will support the harmonization of rules of the Olympic and sports movement," the IOC said in a statement.
The rules will be based on measures enforced by some federations, including football governing body FIFA, which "has already applied severe sanctions" for match-fixing, the statement said.
The summit also dealt with the issue of the crowded international sports calendar, agreeing that any new initiative "has to respect the uniqueness of the Olympic Games."
"It means that neither the Olympic program nor games revenues should be adversely affected in any way," the IOC said.
The statement did not specifically mention the 2022 World Cup in Qatar but the message was clear. FIFA is considering moving the tournament from its traditional summer dates to avoid the searing heat in the tiny desert country. The IOC has warned FIFA against moving the tournament to January/February because that would impact the Winter Olympics, usually held in February.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter, an IOC member, attended Sunday’s meeting.
The parties agreed to set up a working group to compile a comprehensive sports schedule and "discuss the priority of current and future sports events within the global calendar."
On other issues, the delegates reaffirmed the "autonomy" of the international sports movement and decided to set up a network of experts for strengthening good governance.
"Only autonomy allows the worldwide application of sporting rules," the statement said. "But at the same time, autonomy does not mean independence from the laws of a country. Sports development requires good cooperation with governments and public authorities."
Bach also presented his ideas for changing the Olympic bidding process, reviewing the Olympic sports program and bringing more young people into sport, the IOC said.
The issues will be discussed further at the next summit meeting in the first half of 2014.
Among those attending Sunday’s summit were IOC vice presidents Reedie, John Coates of Australia and Nawal el Moutawakel of Morocco; Sheik Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, the influential Kuwaiti who heads the Association of National Olympic Committees; U.S. Olympic Committee head Larry Probst and Russian Olympic chief Alexander Zhukov.
Bach, a former Olympic gold medalist in fencing, has been busy consolidating his power since succeeding Rogge as president, traveling frequently and holding talks with key officials.
Bach will attend the doping conference in South Africa from Nov. 12-15. He’ll travel later this month to Asia to visit Beijing, 2018 Winter Games host Pyeongchang, South Korea, and 2020 Summer Olympics host Tokyo.