New York: The head of the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) believes Russian track and field athletes should be barred from competing in the Olympics, saying there was not enough time to rebuild the country’s tarnished drug-testing regime, the New York Times reported.
USADA chief executive Travis Tygart said Russia had taken no meaningful steps to put its house in order after being accused of running a state-sponsored doping program in a bombshell World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) report last year.
Tygart accused Russian authorities of continuing to target whistleblowers and said it was too late to guarantee that dope cheats who had benefited from the program would be clean in time for August’s games in Rio de Janeiro.
“They’re still attacking the brave and courageous whistle-blowers,” Tygart was quoted by the Times as saying. “There is no lab. There’s no testing agency.
“We’re a few months before the Games and it’s too late, even if they hold all of those who are responsible accountable. It’s too late to assure that those in the state-supported doping program are clean.”
Tygart’s comments came as a second WADA report released in Munich yesterday claimed corruption was “embedded” at track and field’s global governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).
The IAAF suspended Russian athletes from all competition in the wake of last year’s WADA report but left the door open for a possible return in time for Rio.
Tygart’s remarks echoed calls made by US Olympic legend Edwin Moses at a WADA meeting in Colorado Springs in November.
“The only sanction is that enough is enough. It is to state loudly and clearly that the Russian athletics team cannot go to Rio,” Moses said.
“Athletes are very concerned — they want to see the right thing done in this case,” Moses said.