IOC meetings to focus on drugs, ethics, suspensions
Four months after the highs of the London Olympics, the International Olympic Committee is turning to less uplifting matters —drug-tainted medals from past Games, ethics violations in ticket sales and suspension of national Olympic bodies.
The fate of Lance Armstrong's bronze medal from the 2000 Sydney Games and doping cases involving five medallists from the 2004 Athens Olympics are high on the agenda for the IOC's two-day executive board meeting starting Tuesday in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Also on the table are proposed sanctions against Olympic officials and ticket agents accused of the unauthorized sale of London tickets and the proposed suspension of the Indian Olympic Association for political interference.
The IOC board also will receive reports on preparations for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, and 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. With concerns mounting about the state of progress in Rio, the IOC will be looking for assurances that the first Olympics in South America are on track.
Doping issues will be at the forefront of the meetings, which have been moved to a Lausanne hotel because the IOC headquarters are still being repaired after flood damage caused by a burst water main.
Five doping tests from 2004 came back positive earlier this year when the IOC re-analyzed about 100 Athens samples to catch any drug cheats who had avoided detection.
The IOC held disciplinary hearings for the five East European athletes — all medallists — over the weekend and will now consider disqualifying them and removing the medals.
The group includes shot put gold medallist Yuriy Bilonog of Ukraine and three bronze winners — women's shot putter Svetlana Krivelyova of Russia, discus thrower Irina Yatchenko of Belarus and weightlifter Oleg Perepechenov of Russia.
Their names were first reported last week by German public broadcaster ARD. The identities were confirmed to The Associated Press by two Olympic officials with knowledge of the cases. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the cases remain confidential while the disciplinary process is ongoing.
The fifth athlete is Ivan Tskikhan of Belarus, who won silver in the hammer throw in Athens. He was publicly identified by the Belarus Olympic Committee and sent home from the London Games.
Whether or when the IOC would reallocate the medals is uncertain. If Bilonog's victory in the shot put is erased, Adam Nelson of the United States could move up to gold.
In 2004, the Athens Games produced a record 26 doping cases and six medallists, including two gold winners, were caught.
Since Athens, the IOC has been storing doping samples from each Olympics for eight years to allow for retesting when new detection methods become available.
The Athens retests have caused a rift between the IOC and World Anti-Doping Agency. WADA leaders publicly criticized the IOC for not retesting more of the 3,000-plus samples. The IOC said it assessed the quality, quantity and chain-of-custody of the samples, as well as the considerable cost and logistics of retesting.
The IOC, meanwhile, wants to get back the bronze medal that Armstrong won in the road time trial in Sydney, following the damning U.S. Anti-Doping Agency's report that led to him being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles from 1999-2005.
The board could decide to strip the medal this week or wait another few weeks until cycling's governing body has officially notified Armstrong of the loss of all his results since August 1998.
IOC lawyers are studying whether the eight-year statute of limitations applies.
"The board is following a zero-tolerance policy on doping," IOC vice president Thomas Bach, who heads the body's doping investigations, told The Associated Press.
No plans to reallocate medal
The IOC has no plans to reallocate Armstrong's medal, just as the UCI decided not to declare winners for the Tour titles revoked from the American. Spanish rider Abraham Olano Manzano, who finished fourth in Sydney, would not be upgraded and the bronze medal placing would be left vacant in the Olympic records.
The IOC is also investigating Levi Leipheimer, a former Armstrong teammate who won the time-trial bronze at the 2008 Beijing Games. The American confessed to doping as part of his testimony against Armstrong in the USADA case.
Also now in doubt is the silver medal in the women's discus from the London Olympics.
Darya Pishchalnikova's sample from an out-of-competition test in May was negative at the time, but came back positive for a steroid when it was retested last month with a new method. The former Olympic and world champion's case now lies with the IAAF and may not reach the IOC for some time.
On another matter, the IOC board will act on recommendations from the ethics commission for sanctions in connection with irregularities in the sale of Olympic tickets.
The IOC opened a probe in June after Britain's Sunday Times reported that national Olympic committee officials and ticket agents in several countries were caught offering tickets on the black market for up to 10 times their face value. The paper turned its evidence over to the IOC, which has been studying it for several months.
At issue are ticket allocations given by local organizers to the 200-plus national Olympic committees to sell in their home countries. The committees appoint a local organization to sell the tickets.
IOC rules prohibit national committees from selling tickets abroad, inflating ticket prices or selling tickets to unauthorized resellers.
The highest-profile official implicated in the newspaper's undercover investigation was Sypros Capralos, head of the Greek Olympic Committee. He has denied any wrongdoing.
The IOC will rule on a proposal to suspend India because of government interference in the national Olympic body's elections, scheduled for Wednesday. The IOC has told the Indians they must adhere to their own constitution and Olympic Charter and not follow the government sports code.