IOC chief says Armstrong controversy is hurting fight against doping

Posted: Friday, September 23, 2005

BRUSSELS, Belgium — IOC president Jacques Rogge says the quarreling over the doping allegations surrounding Lance Armstrong’s 1999 Tour de France victory is hurting the fight against drugs.

In an interview with De Morgen to be published in Friday editions, Rogge insisted it was not up to the seven-time Tour winner to prove his innocence.

Rogge said he would like the World Anti-Doping Agency to set up clear guidelines on the retroactive analysis of doping samples which would allow for independent research.

Last month, French sports paper L’Equipe published documentation allegedly showing six of Armstrong’s frozen urine samples from 1999 contained endurance-boosting EPO when they were retested last year. Armstrong denied using banned drugs and said he was the victim of a ‘‘witch hunt.’’

Later, the International Cycling Union said it had not received enough information to make a judgment on the allegations, and criticized L’Equipe. UCI and WADA then claimed that the other had leaked documents to L’Equipe, and two major sports organizations demanded the French laboratory involved in the testing be suspended.

Rogge backed Armstrong often in his interview with De Morgen, a Dutch newspaper based in Belgium.

‘‘One has to respect the presumption of innocence. It is not up to an athlete to prove he is innocent but up to sporting institutions to prove his possible guilt,’’ he said. ‘‘The Armstrong case is apparently only about scientific research and not about a doping control.’’

He said one could only start asking questions about Armstrong if there was proof beyond doubt the samples were his, that they contained EPO, and that all his rights in the procedure had been assured. Questions have been raised about all three.

Rogge noted the ongoing dispute between WADA chief Dick Pound and UCI head Hein Verbruggen — both important officials within the Olympic and anti-doping movements — and the arrival in the debate of Denis Oswald, president of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations, and Sergei Bubka, IOC athletes’ commission chief.

‘‘It is clear that the fight against doping is not served by the way in which the debate is currently held,’’ said Rogge.

He said the IOC holds on to urine samples for eight years, and added he was willing to have them checked retroactively ‘‘but with clear procedures which still have to be set up by WADA.’’

Pound on Thursday called Oswald’s and Bubka’s request for WADA to suspend the Chatenay-Malabry laboratory ‘‘unfortunate and ill-informed.’’



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