Hunter praises IOC ban on Russia

  • People walk at the building of the Russian Olympic Committee is seen through a gate decorated with the Olympic rings in Moscow yesterday. The International Olympic Committee has barred the Russian team from competing at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in February over widespread doping at the last edition of the Winter Games in 2014

(Photograph by Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP)

The Bermuda Sport Anti-Doping Authority has applauded the decision by the International Olympic Committee to ban Russia from the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, after evidence of “unprecedented systematic manipulation” of the anti-doping system.

Deborah Hunter, chief executive officer of the BSADA, praised the IOC for its stance, with the door being left open for “innocent athletes” to compete in February as an “Olympic Athlete of Russia” at the Games as long as they satisfy strict conditions that show they have a doping-free background.

“The Bermuda Sport Anti-Doping Authority, the national anti-doping organisation for Bermuda, is extremely pleased and commends the International Olympic Committee’s decision to ban the Russia Olympic Committee from participating in the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games,” the BSADA said in a statement yesterday.

“Doping practices will not be tolerated in any shape or form. To the clean athletes of the world, anti-doping organisations will continue to be a force to be reckoned with, as we are steadfast in our quest to rid all sports of cheats.

“We will continue to work with vigour in promoting a level playing field in all facets of sports competition.

“The anti-doping community’s commitment to clean sport and fair play will continue with passion. Athletes, athlete support personnel and many sports enthusiasts should always be assured and comforted that their voices will always be heard.”

Hunter, the former Debbie Jones, was the island’s top female sprinter in the 1970s, competing at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal. She also took part in the 200 metres at the 1980 Games in Moscow. She won her first Carifta Games medals in 1973 when she claimed gold in the under-17 100 and silver in the 200, helping Bermuda to win 15 medals that year.

In 1977, she became the first winner of the Austin Sealy award for the most outstanding athlete at the 1977 Carifta Games. Even back as far as the 1970s, Hunter said, there was talk of drug cheats in the sport.

“The conversation in the 1970s was that some very high-profile athletes were involved,” Hunter said.

“You tended to hear things but didn’t participate in the conversation. If you looked at a lot of the world-record times, you can kind of say, ‘Something doesn’t quite add up’.

“My times were relatively decent times but some were off the charts. I’m just glad that at this time the IOC is continuing on its path. The system works, those people who were unfortunately getting fourth, fifth and sixth places can now enjoy knowing they are Olympic medallists. It gives them the drive to carry on competing.”

Hunter added: “There are athletes who are going to have the opportunity to prove to Wada [World Anti-Doping Agency] that they have been tested,” she explained.

Russia is set to host the 2018 football World Cup, although Thomas Bach, the IOC president, declined to comment on what impact, if any, Tuesday’s decision may have on that tournament.

Athletes representing Bermuda are required to be drug-tested. According to the BSADA website, testing falls under four main test pools: the Registered Test Pool, the National Test Pool 1, National Test Pool 2 and Domestic Test Pool.

The Registered Test Pool involves athletes who compete regularly at international level events, such as triathletes Tyler Butterfield and Flora Duffy, sprinter Tre Houston and long jumper Tyrone Smith.

The National Test Pool 1 is made up of athletes who have the potential to compete regularly at international level events, such as the Bermuda Olympic Association elite list athletes not included in the RTP.

The National Test Pool 2 includes all-national level athletes not included in the RTP and NTP1, while the Domestic Test Pool includes all remaining athletes not covered in the above pools, namely domestic-competition athletes only.