International Athletics

USADA chief supports Russia sanctions

2015-11-12 20:09
Travis Tygart (AP Photo)

Miami - American anti-doping chief Travis Tygart, whose USADA organization has banned cyclist Lance Armstrong and others welcomes the investigation into doping in Russian athletics.

Tygart said that he supports harsh sanctions such as excluding the athletics team from events including the 2016 Olympics in Rio after an independent committee of the World Anti-Doping Agency confirms wide-spread doping and covering up of tests, first made in a German TV documentary in December 2014.

"Russian athletics shouldn't be allowed to compete because that was what the evidence demonstrated violating the rights of the clean athletes," he said.

"The WADA foundation board has the authority to declare they are non-compliant. The Russian lab has already been decertified. The IAAF is looking at the status of the Russian federation.

"Hopefully those of us who cherish and agree with the Olympic values will stand and rally behind doing the right thing to ensure that those who were involved are held accountable and to change the systems to ensure that something like this can never happen again."

WADA has suspended the accreditation of Moscow's anti-doping laboratory and the council of the ruling athletics body IAAF meets Friday to discuss possible sanctions.

Russian President Vladimir Putin Wednesday called for an investigation, and the nation's Olympic Committee said it is ready to co-operate but named a team ban unfair for the clean athletes.

Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko was Thursday quoted by the Tass news agency as saying that the nation will not boycott the Rio Games if the athletics team is denied competing.

"We don't plant to boycott anything anywhere," said Mutko, naming Russia "a dependable partner of the international Olympic movement."

The International Olympic Committee has urged the IAAF and WADA to take the appropriate measures and sanction athletes, coaches and doctors who have been implicated in the WADA report, which could mean that Mariya Savinova is stripped of her 800 metres gold from the London 2012 Olympics.

Tygart agreed with such measures, saying: "The individual athletes and coaches need to be sanctioned and prizes and medals returned and redistributed to those athletes who lost to the doped athletes.

"My job is to worry about clean athletes rights being violated, so Im very hopeful the system in place would catch and rule out cheaters, but we have to work every day to ensure the system is as good as it possibly can be to fully protect clean athletes rights."

He acknowledged that Russia may not be the only country with widespread cheating because "the temptations to cheat are global temptations" but did not want to speculate about other countries and sports because the WADA report was limited to Russia and athletics.

Tygart said the problem was not comparable to cycling which has been plagued by various doping affairs highlighted by the wrongdoings of Armstrong who was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles.

While personally supporting life bans for first time offenders, Tygart acknowledged that athletes such as sprinter Justin Gatlin are eligible to compete again because of existing rules.

Tygart welcomed whistle-blowers to help in the fight against cheating and dismissed suggestions that sport was losing the battle against the substance abuse.

"Athletes have more hope than they've ever had around the world that they can compete clean and actually win when they compete clean," Tygart said.

"The risks of cheating and getting caught are significantly higher that they have ever been before and I dont think athletes want to cheat. Today's culture has shifted where you can actually win competing clean."

Read more on:    iaaf  |  athletics


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