Bach: ‘Poison’ to suspect all athletes of doping
BERLIN (AP) — Assuming all athletes are doping because some have been caught recently is unfair, International Olympic Committee presidential candidate Thomas Bach said Wednesday.
With about a week to go until the world championships in Moscow, Bach warned against blindly suspecting all athletes of doping following the recent positive tests of sprinters Tyson Gay, Asafa Powell and Sherone Simpson.
“That wouldn’t be fair,” the German said at a news conference. “It is poison for a positive test to lead into the trap of doping suspicion. ... That’s why we should always be aware of whom we are in this fight against doping for - for the clean athletes.”
Bach, an IOC vice president, is vying to replace outgoing president Jacques Rogge, who is stepping down after 12 years. Rogge’s successor will be elected on Sept. 10 by secret ballot in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
If elected, Bach would be the first German and the first former Olympic champion to be IOC president. Bach helped Germany to the team gold in fencing in 1976.
“I want to give something back to sport. I grew up with sport,” said Bach, who works as a lawyer and has been president of German Olympic Sports Confederation since 2006.
Bach is considered the favorite among six candidates to replace Rogge.
“I’m a sportsman. I’m going into this competition and I want to win it. I’m well prepared for the final,” he said.
Sergei Bubka of Ukraine, Richard Carrion of Puerto Rico, Denis Oswald of Switzerland, Ng Ser Miang of Singapore and C.K. Wu of Taiwan are the other contenders.
Bach said he wanted to convince other IOC members to place their trust in him and that he wouldn’t comment on the other candidates.
He also refused to comment on the candidacies of Madrid, Istanbul and Tokyo for the 2020 Olympics.
“I was told to concentrate only on my own election campaign,” Bach joked.
The 59-year-old Bach praised Rogge’s record on corruption in the IOC, highlighting the Belgian’s handling of the Salt Lake City bribery scandal and the establishment of the organization’s ethics commission.
Bach said he would build on Rogge’s achievements if elected, tackling fraud and corruption, building trust in the organization, promoting human rights through political means, and improving relationships with international police and organizations such as the World Anti-Doping Agency to help in the fight against doping.
“The fight against doping will never be over,” Bach said. “We’ll never reach a stage where we have a stadium without doping cases. Wherever there are people competing you will have some that try to gain an advantage. It’s the same in society.”
Bach said he was in favor of increasing the standard two-year ban for a first serious offense to four years.
“You have to take realistic steps in the fight. That means testing as comprehensively as possible with heavy penalties. Above all, you can’t lose sight of the aim,” Bach said. “The main thing is to protect clean athletes. Every test, every ban helps achieve that. We have to give them the confidence that they have a chance in fair competition.”
Bach suggested that “huge steps have been made” in combating doping since the end of the 1990s, with an increase in out-of-competition testing, training controls, storage of samples for retesting and retroactive sanctions. Blood passports can also monitor an athlete’s biological profile over long periods of time for signs of cheating.
“But you cannot relax. On the one hand every positive test shows the struggle against doping is having an effect. On the other, it will never be the case where someone doesn’t think about cheating,” Bach said. “You have had measures against theft and fraud for hundreds of years yet they still take place. That’s the way, unfortunately, among people.”
Bach addressed the huge costs associated with next year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, saying it was “a mistake” to say the games will cost so many billions as the infrastructure will remain in place.
He also expressed optimism for wrestling’s restoration as an Olympic sport, saying the International Wrestling Federation responded well to the challenges it faces.