IOC President Thomas Bach writes op-ed on corruption, doping

AP
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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach called for renewed efforts Tuesday to combat corruption and doping, saying recent scandals are undermining the credibility of sports and unfairly casting suspicion on millions of clean athletes.

Bach called on all sports organizations to follow rules of “good governance” to prevent the type of corruption cases that have rocked the global governing bodies of soccer and track and field.

In an op-ed piece published in several newspapers around the world, Bach did not specifically name the scandals enveloping FIFA, the IAAF and Russia’s track and field program, but the references were clear and unmistakable.

His comments came as the IOC executive board discussed issues of ethics and governance on the first day of a three-day meeting in Lausanne.

“As an Olympic medalist, recent developments in some sports are particularly upsetting,” said Bach, a former fencer. “What saddens me most as a former athlete is that they erode the trust in the clean athlete.”

“For their sake and the credibility of sports competitions, they have to be protected from doping and corrupting influences,” Bach added.

Bach has repeatedly distanced the IOC from the scandal at FIFA that has led to a wave of arrests and indictments of dozens of soccer and marketing officials on racketeering charges and the suspensions of FIFA President Sepp Blatter and UEFA head Michel Platini. Blatter is a former IOC member.

“Fighting corruption means that good governance for sports organizations is essential,” Bach said.

The IOC went through its own major corruption scandal in the late 1990s, with 10 members ousted for receiving cash and other favors during Salt Lake City’s winning bid for the 2002 Winter Games.

Bach said the IOC now has audited financial reports, term and age limits for all members, and independent audit and ethics commissions.

“We have called on and we expect all sports organizations to follow this route,” he said.

In a damning report released last month, a World Anti-Doping Agency panel alleged widespread, state-sponsored doping in Russia’s track and field program.

The IAAF responded by suspending the Russian federation, a sanction that could keep the country’s track and field athletes out of next year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro unless credible reforms are enacted in time.

Kenyan athletes are also under scrutiny after a series of drug scandals. And three senior Kenyan athletics federation officials were suspended over accusations they subverted the nation’s anti-doping system and siphoned money from Nike.

Because of all the scandals, clean athletes “see the finger of suspicion pointing at them,” a situation akin to “the very worst side-effect of doping,” Bach said.

The IAAF itself was caught up in scandal when its former president, Lamine Diack, was arrested and charged by French authorities with corruption and money-laundering, stemming from allegations that he took money to cover up positive tests in Russia. The IAAF’s former anti-doping manager was also among those arrested.

Olympic leaders recently decided that drug-testing should be taken out of the hands of sports organizations to make the system more independent and credible. The IOC has asked WADA to take over testing on a global level, and for the Court of Arbitration for Sport to handle all drug sanctions.

Bach urged governments, which provide 50 percent of WADA’s funding, to ensure their countries are fully compliant with global anti-doping rules and to crack down on dealers and corrupt doctors and coaches “with the full force of the law.”

MORE BACH: Hamburg bid rejection a ‘missed opportunity’

Asher Hong leads U.S. men’s gymnastics world team selection camp after first day

Asher Hong
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Asher Hong, 18, posted the highest all-around score on the first of two days of competition at the U.S. men’s gymnastics selection camp to determine the last three spots on the team for the world championships that start in three weeks.

Hong, bidding to become the youngest U.S. man to compete at worlds since Danell Leyva in 2009, totaled 84.6 points in Colorado Springs. He edged Colt Walker by one tenth. Tokyo Olympians Shane Wiskus (84.15) and Yul Moldauer (83.95) were next. Full apparatus-by-apparatus scores are here.

Brody Malone, who repeated as U.S. all-around champion at August’s national championships, and runner-up Donnell Whittenburg already clinched spots on the five-man team for worlds in Liverpool, Great Britain. They did not compete Monday, though their results from the first day of nationals are shown in the official scores.

The three remaining team spots will not necessarily go to the top three all-arounders at this week’s camp, which is supposed to be weighed equally with results from August’s nationals. Hong was third at nationals, but if excluding difficulty bonus points from that meet that will not be considered by the committee, would have finished behind Walker and Moldauer in August.

A selection committee is expected to announce the team soon after the second and final day of selection camp competition on Wednesday evening. The committee will look at overall scoring potential for the world team final, where three men go per apparatus, and medal potential in individual events.

Stephen Nedoroscik, who last year became the first American to win a world title on the pommel horse, is trying to make the team solely on that apparatus. He wasn’t at his best at nationals and struggled again on Monday, hurting his chances of displacing an all-arounder for one of the last three spots.

The U.S. has reason to emphasize the team event over individual medals at this year’s worlds. It will clinch an Olympic berth by finishing in the top three, and its medal hopes are boosted by the absence of the Russians who won the Olympic team title. All gymnasts from Belarus and Russia are banned indefinitely from international competition due to the war in Ukraine.

In recent years, the U.S. has been among the nations in the second tier behind China, Japan and Russia, including in Tokyo, where the Americans were fifth.

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Ironman Kona World Championships return for first time in three years, live on Peacock

Ironman Kona World Championship
Ironman
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The Ironman Kona World Championships return after a three-year hiatus with a new format, live on Peacock on Thursday and Saturday at 12 p.m. ET.

The Ironman, held annually in Hawaii since 1978, and in Kailua-Kona since 1981, was not held in 2020 or 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The world championships made a one-time-only stop in St. George, Utah, on May 7 to make up for the 2021 cancellation. The winners were Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt, the Tokyo Olympic triathlon champion, and Swiss Daniela Ryf, who bagged her fifth Ironman world title.

Both are entered in Kailua-Kona, where the races are now split between two days — Thursday for the women and Saturday for the men.

An Ironman includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a marathon — totaling 140.6 miles of racing. It takes top triathletes eight hours to complete. Very arguably, it crowns the world’s fittest man and woman.

WATCH LIVE: Ironman Kona, Thursday, 12 p.m. ET — STREAM LINK

Ryf, 35 and a 2008 and 2012 Olympian, can tie retired countrywoman Natascha Badmann for second place on the women’s list at six Ironman world titles. Only Zimbabwean-turned-American Paula Newby-Fraser has more with eight.

The field also includes German Anne Haug, the 2019 Kona champ and only woman other than Ryf to win since 2015. Brit Lucy Charles-Barclay, the Kona runner-up in 2017, 2018 and 2019, returns after missing the St. George event due to a stress fracture in her hip.

Blummenfelt, 28 and in his Kona debut, will try to become the youngest male champion in Kona since German Normann Stadler in 2005. His top challengers include countryman Gustav Iden, the two-time reigning Half Ironman world champion, and German Patrick Lange, the 2017 and 2018 Ironman Kona winner.

Also racing Saturday is Dallas Clark, a retired All-Pro NFL tight end with the Indianapolis Colts, and Tony Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 champion who completed the 2011 Kona Ironman in 12 hours, 52 minutes, 40 seconds.

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