U.S. Anti-Doping Agency CEO Travis Tygart criticized the IOC this past weekend for its decision to not ban Russia from competing at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. Tygart said the committee “refused to take decisive leadership” by not punishing a traditional power amid state-sponsored doping allegations.
“Listen, (the IOC) had an opportunity to put in firm sanctions . . . and they didn’t come anywhere close to that,” Tygart told Damon Amendolara, who was filling in as host of CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “In fact, I think (they) put in almost no consequence to the Russian sports system and the government that perpetuated this fraud for athletes. All they did was simply kick the can by handing off to 28 different international sports federations an impossible task to try to determine if any Russian athletes that were going to be nominated in those particular sports were tainted by this system. So we think it’s a complete failure, quite honestly, and it’s a really disappointing day for all the clean athletes around the world who have relied on the system that’s in place to protect their rights to compete. I think their hope in the system is a lot less today than it was given this outcome.”
The IOC opted not to give Russia a blanket ban and will instead leave it up to the governing bodies of individual sports to determine if Russian athletes are clean and to decide if they should participate in the Olympics.
Not exactly the steely response one might expect from an organization in charge of, you know, anti-doping.
“I think it’s fantastic that it was exposed, and let’s not forget that it took the courage of two individual whistle-blowers (Vitaly and Yuliya Stepanov) who went to incredible lengths to gather evidence and stand up against a state regime that had put in place a drug program,” Tygart said. “It was actually trying to masquerade as an anti-doping system. So it’s fantastic that it was exposed. That’s a little bit of hope in this sordid affair. The problem is the lack of leadership (from) the sport’s governing body. The IOC – the very organization that’s responsible for upholding the principles of the Olympic movement – seems to have made a decision compromised by politics and not based on principle.”
Indeed, Tygart does not believe the IOC can adequately police participating countries.
“This is about athletes’ health and rights to compete on a level playing field, and sports organizations are conflicted,” he said. “They want the best entertainment on the field, so they can’t possibly promote their sports, which is their obligation and their legal duty, and police their sports. It’s the fox guarding the hen house, so to speak. I think we’ve now seen (corruption) at the highest levels . . . and the violation of clean athletes’ rights around the world, unfortunately, has been victim of that system of a sport trying to please itself. It just doesn’t work – and clean athletes, as a result, lose.”
DA compared Russia’s doping system, which dated back to 2011, to that of East or West Germany. Tygart felt this was worse.
“No one wants a rigged system,” he said. “The Olympics gave them the privilege to host the Winter Olympics in 2014, and they repay that favor by allowing their athletes to dope up until those games and throughout those games because they have their state secret service swapping dirty-athlete urine sample with clean-athlete urine samples – a level of corruption and violation that goes right to the heart of the playing field and causes it to be a rigged field and a violation of clean athletes’ rights. So this far eclipses anything we’ve ever seen before, including East Germany.”