IOC Anti-Doping Chief Arne Ljungqvist Backs Up Cycling At Olympic Games

BEIJING, Aug 15, 2008 (AFP) – Professor Arne Ljungqvist, head of the
International Olympic Committee’s medical commission, has brushed off a
suggestion that the troubled sport of cycling should be barred from the Games.

World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) chief John Fahey said last week that sports
tarnished by doping, including cycling and weightlifting, risked being
expelled from the Games.

The Australian’s remarks shocked world cycling chief Pat McQuaid who told
Bicycle.net he was “stunned” that the WADA chief should criticize sports who are
seeking out dope cheats.

On Friday, McQuaid’s response was vindicated when IOC doping specialist
Ljungvist told reporters that cycling should not be ejected from the Games.

The Swede believes that the International Cycling Union (UCI), of which
McQuaid is the president, is taking the correct approach to catching the
cheats.

“It’s been clarified that the best way to support a sport that has a doping
problem is not to throw it out, but rather to help it,” Ljungqvist said on
Friday.

“We hope we will be able to help the sport of cycling. We hope that Olympic
cycling will be a cleaner sport than cycling in general is today.”

Fahey was quoted as saying in the report last week: “I think weightlifting
understands, as cycling understands, that there is a huge risk for both those
sports if the cheating is continued and continued to be exposed.”

Speaking a day after it was announced that Spanish cyclist Maria Isobel
Moreno had tested positive for the blood-booster EPO (erythropoietin), McQuaid
was shocked by the WADA chief’s comments.

“The UCI has been one of the leading international federations in the fight
against doping, which is not the case of some bigger federations,” McQuaid
told Bicycle.net last week.

“I don’t believe you should punish a sport because it is finding cheats.”
Ljungqvist on Friday echoed those thoughts, adding: “I’m hopeful for the
sport in the future. They have to take strong action, and I think everyone
realizes that.”

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