Madrid hopes Olympics help economy, doping fight

Madrid expects its 2020 Olympic bid to help revive the country’s

sluggish economy and reinforce Spain’s commitment to fight

doping.

Organizers presented their bid application to the media

Thursday, two days after Rome dropped out because the Italian

government refused to supply financial guarantees.

The remaining candidates – Madrid, Istanbul, Tokyo, Doha and

Baku, Azerbaijan – will wait for the International Olympic

Committee’s next meeting in Quebec City in May to see if they make

the final shortlist.

”Nobody knows the truth about how Rome’s exit will affect us,

whether it will harm us or help us,” Madrid bid leader Alejandro

Blanco said. ”We need to focus on the bids that remain now, not

the ones that were.”

Madrid, which has a bid budget of $50 million, is making its

third consecutive bid after failed attempts for the 2012 and 2016

Games.

Bid officials promised compact and environmentally responsible

games, saying nearly 80 percent of the infrastructure is completed.

Funding has been guaranteed by all levels of government, even

though the economy is expected to shrink and nearly one-quarter of

Spaniards are unemployed.

”The returns will be incalculable,” Madrid Mayor Ana Botella

said. ”Winning the games would provide a great return in terms of

jobs and for the image of the city internationally. We want to

continue with the legacy left behind by Barcelona 1992.”

Madrid’s bid team promised no unnecessary investments, claiming

Madrid was the best value-for-money of the five candidates. Blanco

and Botella outlined the dossier, which pushed frugal messages such

as ”back to basics” and ”intelligent games means intelligent

legacy.” Madrid promised a lower carbon footprint despite the

Spanish capital regularly showing up among Europe’s most polluted

cities.

Blanco said Spain would have all necessary anti-doping

legislation in place and that it was ”impossible” for Spain to do

more in the fight against doping after the country again fell under

the spotlight following cyclist Alberto Contador’s ban.

Blanco sought to shift the spotlight after the country’s sports

minister said Spain had ”a problem with doping.”

”We can’t be our own worst enemy with this,” Blanco said.

”The issue of doping has become obsessive. … The problem with

doping is that every country has it. I don’t know one that

doesn’t.”

Blanco was among a majority of Spanish authorities who supported

Contador, who received a retroactive two-year ban after failing to

convince sport’s highest court that a positive drug test taken

during the 2010 Tour de France resulted from contaminated meat.

Contador was among the 50 cyclists implicated in 2006’s

Operation Puerto, the largest investigation into doping in cycling

that failed to yield a single ban for riders from Spanish

authorities.

The IOC will select the 2020 host city on Sept. 7, 2013, in

Buenos Aires.