24 Jun 2016

IOC fails athletics - WADA boss

1:32 pm on 24 June 2016

The International Olympic Committee has failed athletics by not supporting the recommendation from its international governing body to ban Russian athletes from competing in Rio, says a New Zealander at the centre of the global fight against doping.

The director general of WADA, David Howman, is stunned the IOC rejected the IAAF recommendation.

Instead the IOC's decided track and field competitors from Russia must now pass extra independent doping test if they're want to compete under the Russian flag.

The 2016 Olympic Games inspire sand art in Rio de Janiero

The 2016 Olympic Games inspire sand art in Rio de Janiero Photo: Photosport

"They (the IOC) have just not supported the International Athletics Federation the way they said they would. I just don't get that," said Howman.

WADA currently has an on going investigation into doping within other Russian sports with the former director of the accredited testing laboratory in Russia revealing the scale of the doping abuse.

"He's telling us how the state effectively sponsored a doping programme in Russia. Now what we don't know is who has been beneficiaries of that? How have they been beneficiaries and what sports are they from?

So there is more to come and I think the IOC may need to reflect on its decision in due course."

Asked how many medal winners at the upcoming Rio Olympics he thought would be guilty of doping, Howman was reluctant to put a number on it.

Director-General of the World Anti-Doping Agency, David Howman

Outgoing director-general of WADA David Howman. Photo: AFP

"That's a question I just can't answer," said Howman.

"But you've got to hope the continuing storage of (athletes) samples is a deterent....because you can be found out."

Samples from athletes at these Games will be kept for ten years as a drug testing procedures improve and as with samples from Beijing eight years ago will be re-tested with previously negatively results now testing positive for drugs as analysing procedure have improved.

Howman is stepping down at WADA director general next week after 13 years with the organisation and returning to New Zealand but says his time with the organisation has changed his perspective on top level sport.

"I've got a healthy degree of practical cynicism and that is bred not from what I have done in my job and reading things and learning things about what people do to cheat and take short cuts not just in sport but in other aspects of our society."

"I can't vouch for the athletes that are going to Rio. I can point you in the direction of research projects which say, 'would you go to an Olympics games and cheat because you were sure of getting a gold medal but you're probably going to die before you are 25?'.. and a high percentage of athletes said they would," said Howman.

"So you've got to balance that sort of information you've got from research against your hopes."

Howman is stepping down from his role with WADA having spent 13 years with the organisation.

Despite his cynicism Howman will still be watching the Olympics.

"I am still an avid sports person...there are some sports I can watch better than others with a lesser dose of cynicism.

"But you watch and say 'What! how did that happen?'

"And if you do that, you've got to sit back and say did it happen because (of doping) or did it happen because this athlete is simply extraordinary? That's the balance of decision making that anyone has to take."

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