Team Canada’s Curt Harnett confident IOC will have drug-free Rio Olympics
OTTAWA—The International Olympic Committee needs to get on with the job of removing the smear of doping from the Olympics, says the leader of Canada’s athletes heading to the Rio Games.
The IOC must decide, possibly by this weekend, whether to kick the entire Russian team out of the Games that begin in Rio de Janeiro on Aug. 5.
On Thursday, the Court of Arbitration for Sport dismissed an appeal by 68 Russian track athletes of the ban imposed by track and field’s world governing body, known as the IAAF, following allegations of systematic and state-sponsored doping.
Sports officials in Moscow condemned the ruling and some athletes, including two-time Olympic pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva, said the Rio Games will be devalued, with only “pseudo-gold medals” adorning the top finishers.
But Team Canada chef de mission Curt Harnett said he doesn’t believe that.
In Ottawa for the unveiling of Rosie MacLennan as Canada’s flag-bearer, Harnett said he puts his faith in the leadership of the IOC and other international sport bodies as they try to level the playing field for all athletes.
“Really, at a fundamental level, it’s about clean sport and I really, truly believe that these organizations are working to ensure that,” said Harnett.
And he encouraged the sporting federations to continue in their quest for an Olympics free of performance- enhancing substances.
“The Canadian Olympic Committee and every Canadian athlete, I’m sure, would want a clean field that they were competing against at the Rio Olympics,” said Harnett.
“And we encourage the IOC and (the World Anti-doping Agency) to continue their journey and their fight in ensuring that clean athletes show up at the Olympic Games.”
In its ruling, the highest court in sports found that the IAAF had properly applied its own rules in keeping the Russians out of the Games.
The Russians had argued against a collective ban, saying it punishes those athletes who have not been accused of wrongdoing.
MacLennan shied away from commenting on the Russian doping scandal Thursday, as many athletes have in recent weeks. But she said she didn’t envy the IOC as it faces making a ruling.
“They’re definitely in a tough spot,” said MacLennan. “It’s a tough decision to make but we’ll have to leave it to them to make that decision.”
IAAF president Sebastian Coe praised the court decision, but also indicated it wasn’t an outcome to be celebrated.
“I didn’t come into this sport to stop athletes from competing,” he said. “It is our federation’s instinctive desire to include, not exclude.”
With files from the Associated Press
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