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Calls for IOC to finally act tough on Russia

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The IOC comes under growing pressure to act tough on Russia after the latest McLaren report implicates more than 1,000 athletes in an alleged state-sponsored doping scheme

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is under growing pressure for its handling of the Russian doping affair after the release of a second report on the practices by Richard McLaren.

But the Canadian law professor, who conducted the independent probably by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has also also been accused of being too lenient with alleged key figures such as Russian SportsMinister Vitali Mutko.

McLaren's report, presented Friday in London, gave no names of offenders but said that more than 1,000 athletes have been implicated in a programme of state-sponsored doping between 2011 and 2015, most notably at the 2012 London Olympics and 2014 Sochi home Games.

He said that "for years, international sports competitions have unknowingly been hijacked by the Russians," and that "the desire to win medals superseded their collective moral and ethical compass and their Olympic values of fair play.”

The IOC, in a reaction, spoke of a "fundamental attack on the integrity of the Olympic Games" but Britain's The Guardian notedSaturday that the IOC statement fell short by a long way.

"It contained no condemnation, no contrition, no apology, only 300words of waffle about the assorted commissions it has set up to"prepare appropriate sanctions and measures," the paper said.

"The IOC's behaviour has been most notable for its vacillation and procrastination.”

The IOC and its German president Thomas Bach have been under attack for a long time over the handling of the affair, most notably stopping short of imposing a blanket ban on Russian athletes for theRio de Janeiro Olympics in August.

The Daily Telegraph said: "Unless the Olympics start taking anti-doping seriously, every major city should shun it and end this deceit.”

The Times wondered whether the fight against doping can be won at all and in France L'Equipe spoke of a "strong aftershock" which was"merciless" with Russia.

American anti-doping agency chief Travis Tygart for his part joined those who want Russia banned from hosting or competing at major events until reaching compliance with WADA regulations.

Germany's Sueddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) meanwhile said McLaren's report was "shockingly weak" because it doesn't go against the main suspects, and also questioned his assessment that the affair is prompting cultural changes in Russia.

"The last months have shown how Moscow's sports-political machine works. These officials have infiltrated all global federations, their networks are as strong as the friendship between Bach and (RussianPresident Vladimir) Putin," the paper said.

But Russia dismissed the report from the outset, with the SportEkspress paper Saturday questioning "what he (McLaren) calls evidence. It is doubtful that any respectable court would accept them.

"The suspects weren't questioned, the sites not investigated, the selection of witnesses is one-sided," it said.

Mutko meanwhile told the Tass state news agency late Friday: “If there are facts, they will be investigated" but it was “simply impossible to do what we are being accused of in Sochi."

Published : December 10, 2016

By : John Bagratuni Deutsche Presse-Agentur Berlin