Elite sport's credibility on the line: Ljungqvist

Fri Dec 19, 2014 7:07am EST
 
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By Philip O'Connor

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - World Anti-Doping Authority (WADA) vice-chairman Arne Ljungqvist says that the credibility of elite sport is in danger of being lost altogether if it does not deal with a historic acceptance of doping in some quarters.

Ljungqvist was speaking in the wake of a recent German TV documentary alleging systematic doping and cover-ups among Russian track and field athletes, and said that such reports had not surprised him in the slightest.

"I'm not surprised by anything any more," Ljungqvist told Reuters in a telephone interview from his office at the Swedish Sports Confederation. "But I evaluate what I hear, and this is something I recognize from before."

"We have seen this before, and I know the people who made the documentary well. They usually have a good foundation before they go out with these kinds of things."

Ljungqvist said that he had not seen the documentary, entitled "Secret Doping Dossier: How Russia Produces Its Winners" and broadcast by ZDF/ARD at the beginning of December, but that the allegations within it followed a familiar pattern.

"I remember when I was medical officer for the IOC (International Olympic Committee) and the anti-doping efforts before the Beijing Olympics.

"I had identified a number of Russian women who had in some way 'dribbled' with doping questions and tests. They were suspended and never got to Beijing," he said.

"I held a press conference on the subject where I stated that it smelled of organized doping, so it's nothing new," he recalled of the run-up to the 2008 Olympic Games.   Continued...