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3RD LEAD Russia doping leads to heated debate at IOC; WADA defends itself By John Bagratuni, dpa

Europe
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Rio de Janeiro (dpa) - International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach called Tuesday for a full overhaul of anti-doping measures in the wake of the Russia crisis as he defended the IOC from refraining what he named "the nuclear option."

Criticizing the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) again for its timing of a latest report on Russia, which saw the IOC and sports federations scramble to check the eligibility of Russian athletes for the Rio de Janeiro Games starting Friday, the German boss of the IOC said that a full reform was needed.

He was joined in this call by many others among the 86 IOC members present at the 129th IOC Session in an at times heated debate.

WADA boss Craig Reedie acknowledged shortcomings but defended his organization‘s handling of the case, which rocked world sport.

By the end of the day peace appeared restored with Bach praising Reedie‘s report and denying the IOC was out to destroy WADA, while the remarkably composed Reedie spoke of difficult times for all involved.

"It is not often that sport is confronted with what has come out of Russia, it is really difficult to handle. It puts pressure on the IOC, athletes and WADA. It is a natural reaction in this disturbed era that you point fingers," Reedie said.

Bach said: "This is not about destroying structures but significantly improving a system," and about creating a "robust and efficient system."

Bach had a proposal accepted by an 85-1 vote that endorsed the IOC executive board decision not to impose a blanket ban on Russian athletes, though WADA investigator Richard McLaren had spoken of widespread, state-sponsored doping in Russian sport on July 18, and the WADA foundation board had recommended a full ban.

The IOC boss defended the July 24 decision of the executive board to allow Russian athletes for Rio under strict criteria, instead of having none in Brazil.

"It was called by some the nuclear option, and clean athletes were the collateral damage. This comparison is completely out of proportion. The result is death and destruction, that is not what the Olympic Movement stands for. The Olympic movement stands for life and the construction of a better future," he said.

To improve matters, Bach said: "We need a full review of WADA‘s anti-doping system. ... We need and want WADA as the independent leader. We need through WADA the cooperation with the world governments. We want WADA to be more efficient."

Like Bach, Israel‘s IOC member Alex Gilady asked why WADA hadn‘t taken action when approached for the first time by whistleblowers a few years ago.

"It‘s not the reputation of the IOC but that of WADA that has to be restored," he said.

Russian Olympic Committee president Alexander Zhukov said the Russian case highlighted "the shortcomings of the current anti-doping system" and said WADA failed in its handling of the meldonium issue.

Zhukov spoke of "interference of politics in sport" after politicians in some countries had joined athletes, anti-doping agencies and western media in calling for a full ban.

Seemingly unmoved, Reedie later delivered his report to the session, insisting that WADA could have acted faster and better but also saying the organization needed more personnel and money to do better, and has only been able to investigate itself since 2015.

"We have started our own rethinking," Reedie said, a process that not only looks at the doping issues itself but also "reviewing WADA governance structures."

Reedie said there was acceptance of a problem in Russia and that "it is absolutely essential we cannot have the biggest country in the world non-compliant on a permanent basis. Let‘s see if we can get back to a little more normality."

Some IOC members criticized the exclusion of Russian whistleblower Yulia Stepanova as a wrong signal.

"Unfortunately the decision to exclude Stepanova does harm the fight against doping," said Britain‘s Adam Pengilly, the only IOC member who voted against the endorsement of the executive board decisions.

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