(ATR) Thomas Bach has spoken candidly about learning the extent of Russia’s state-sponsored doping regime.
The IOC president lifted the lid on his true feelings about Russia’s corrupt anti-doping system in a revealing interview with German newspaper FAZ published Thursday.
"I feel horror. Partly, I also feel inner rage. But neither anger nor fear are good advisers. So in a position of responsibility, you have to immediately ask yourself, how do you deal with this? What can be done, so this will hopefully never happen again?," he was quoted in a translation of the interview.
His comments come a week after WADA investigator Richard McLaren delivered his second report in London. More than 1,000 Russian athletes were involved in or benefited from "a cover-up on an unprecedented scale", he told a press conference.
Bach said he didn't regret not banning the entire Russia team from the Rio Olympics. He praised McLaren’s work in giving "answers to many questions that were still open in the first report" delivered in July, which was based around allegations made by Grigory Rodchenkov, former head of the Moscow anti-doping laboratory, about the manipulation of doping samples at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.
Bach said Russia’s response to the findings of investigations by the IOC’s two commissions now studying McLaren’s reports would be interesting. Russian government ministers and the country’s leading athletes, including double Olympic gold pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva, have repeatedly denied wrongdoing. They will be asked to submit evidence and attend hearings.
"Now the crucial point is: what will the Russian response be in the hearings of the IOC commissions?," Bach told FAZ.
When it was put to the IOC chief that he was a good friend of Russian president Vladimir Putin, he said: "Obviously, such conspiracy theories are a widespread phenomenon of our time."
Adding that he was politically neutral, Bach denied that Russian officials in the international sports federations, some with good connections to the Kremlin, have attempted to exert pressure on the IOC.
"We do not allow ourselves to be pressurized," Bach said. "The IOC has clear rules."
He suggested the appointment of Isinbayeva as president of the Russian anti-doping agency RUSADA could have been better handled. She has been an outspoken critic of WADA, the IOC and IAAF in the wake of the first bombshell revelations about Russia’s state-directed doping. She did not compete in Rio following the IAAF’s ban on Russia.
"I believe it would have been very helpful if there had been an exchange of views between WADA and RUSADA ahead of such an important personnel decision," Bach said.
Reported by Mark Bisson
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