IOC President Bach vows 'zero tolerance' for Track & Field doping
The IOC will take action against any Olympic athletes if they are found guilty of the latest doping allegations rocking the sport of track and field, IOC President Thomas Bach said Monday.
Bach said it is up to the World Anti-Doping Agency to investigate the allegations, including that one-third of medals in endurance races at the Olympics and world championships from 2001 to 2012 were won by athletes who recorded suspicious blood tests.
"If there should be cases involving results at Olympic Games, the IOC will react with zero tolerance with our usual policy," Bach said.
German broadcaster ARD and The Sunday Times newspaper in Britain said they obtained access to the results of 12,000 blood tests involving 5,000 athletes. The leaked files came from the database of the International Association of Athletics Federations.
The report found that 146 medals -- including 55 golds -- in disciplines ranging from the 800 meters to the marathon at the Olympics and world championships were won by athletes who have recorded suspicious tests.
The Sunday Times said that 10 medals at the 2012 London Olympics were won by athletes with suspicious results, and that in some finals every athlete in the medal positions had recorded a dubious blood test.
The International Olympic Committee has previously stripped medals from athletes who have been retroactively found guilty of doping offenses dating back to the time of the games. The IOC also stores Olympic doping samples for 10 years for possible retesting.
"We have full confidence in the inquiry by WADA," Bach said. "If needed, we will follow suit ... and do everything to protect clean athletes."
On a separate issue, Bach said water pollution will be among the topics for discussion when he travels to Rio de Janeiro for Wednesday's one-year countdown to the 2016 Olympics.
An Associated Press investigation published last week revealed high counts of disease-causing viruses in the sewage-polluted waters where some Olympic competitions will take place. The IOC has since been advised by the World Health Organization that testing should be expanded to include viruses, not just bacteria.
"Doing the water tests is up to the Brazilian authorities," Bach said. "They have done so. We have been informed by them that they have done these tests in accordance with the guidelines of the World Health Organization and that they have the assurances from the WHO that there is no significant risk for the athletes. But, of course, we will continue to monitor this until and including the Olympic competitions."
Bach discussed the doping allegations on Monday with WADA chief Craig Reedie.
"We made it very clear and we agreed that WADA is our competent center in the fight against doping and they will inquire into these allegations," Bach said at a news conference at the close of IOC meetings in Kuala Lumpur, where Beijing was selected last week as host of the 2022 Winter Games. "But at this time, we have nothing more than allegations. We have to respect the presumption of innocence of the athletes."
The IAAF and WADA were already investigating accusations made in two previous ARD documentaries of alleged systematic doping and cover-ups in Russia.
The latest ARD program, called "Doping Top Secret: The Shadowy World of Athletics," was broadcast three weeks before the world championships in Beijing, which run from Aug. 22-30.
IAAF President Lamine Diack told the IOC delegates that his federation was studying the allegations and was preparing a complete response. He said some people were pressuring the IAAF to redistribute medals.
Talking to reporters, Diack suggested the allegations were timed to overshadow the world championships and the IAAF presidential election on Aug. 19. Sebastian Coe and Sergei Bubka are the two candidates to succeed Diack.
Bach also touched on the upcoming race for the 2024 Summer Olympics. The declared candidates so far are Paris; Rome; Hamburg, Germany; and Budapest, Hungary.
Boston dropped out last week amid a lack of public support, but the U.S. Olympic Committee still plans to enter a bid by the Sept. 15 deadline, with Los Angeles considered the likely choice.
"We had a commitment from the USOC for a bid and we have this commitment for a bid," Bach said. "I have no reason to doubt on the delivery of this bid."
Bach also appeared to encourage a bid from Toronto, which just hosted the Pan American Games.
"They can feel encouraged by the Pan Am Games," he said. " We are following with great interest the consultations going on in Canada."