Metro Morning

Canadian marathoner Reid Coolsaet calls for 'drastic' action over WADA report

Canadian Olympian Reid Coolsaet says he has mixed feelings about banning Russian athletes from next summer’s Olympic Games in the wake of allegations of a state-sponsored doping program, but says “something drastic needs to be done, so maybe that is the way to go.”

World Anti-Doping Agency panel made allegations of a state-sponsored Russian doping program

Canadian marathoner Reid Coolsaet says a ban on Russian athletes at the 2016 Rio Olympics will penalize clean athletes, but "drastic" measures may be necessary. (Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Canadian Olympian Reid Coolsaet says he has mixed feelings about banning Russian athletes from next summer's Olympic Games in the wake of allegations of a state-sponsored doping program, but says "something drastic needs to be done, so maybe that is the way to go."

Coolsaet, who was born in Hamilton, has already qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympics. He made the comments Tuesday on CBC's Metro Morning. When asked if Russian athletes should be banned from the Rio Games, he called it "a tough question for me."

"My first response is yes, because it just seems it's so prevalent there amongst their top athletes that something has to be done at that level. The only problem I have with that is that the worst thing that happens when people cheat is that it takes away spots from clean athletes," Coolsaet told host Matt Galloway in a telephone interview.

"At this point when you look at the evidence of how widespread the cheating is in Russia, something drastic does need to be done, so maybe that is the way to go."

On Monday, a report issued by the World Anti-Doping Agency made allegations of a widespread, state-sponsored doping program in Russia and accused government and intelligence officials, athletes, coaches and team officials of collusion.

The commission recommended that Russia's track and field federation be suspended until it addresses the allegations. The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) will decide Friday whether to suspend Russia, which could keep Russian athletes out of the Rio Games.

"The IOC expects the IAAF and WADA to consider all necessary action to be taken to protect the clean athletes and rebuild trust," the IOC said in a statement Tuesday.

The IOC has asked the IAAF to "initiate disciplinary procedures" against athletes, coaches and officials who were a part of the London Games and are accused of doping in the report.

Once the IAAF concludes its investigation, the IOC will levy its own sanctions, including stripping athletes of their medals and banning coaches and officials from future Games.

In the wake of the report, Russian President Vladimir Putin is scheduled to meet with his country's track federation on Wednesday.

'It seems really sad'

Asked whether he was surprised by Monday's report, Coolsaet said no, given that many of its findings were revealed in a documentary from last year.

"A whole bunch of us athletes were waiting for something like this, and it was good to see it all come out on the table," Coolsaet said of Monday's report. "It seems really sad."

Coolsaet said runners have long discussed doping in track and field, and spend much of their training time discussing athletes not only from Russia, but other countries, as well.

"Yeah, it's really frustrating but it's also something I don't really think about on the start line. It wouldn't do me any good to focus on the things I can't control, anyways," he said. "That being said, in between races and stuff when we're just out on the trails for a run, it definitely consumes a lot of our conversation."

Coolsaet, who runs between 220 km and 240 km over particularly rigorous training weeks, is less concerned about marathon runners, saying that he doesn't suspect Russians who finished ahead of him in London of doping.

Asked whether he has been tempted to cheat, Coolsaet replied: "No, not at all. And I think it's definitely different in a lot of countries. For me, I just want to get as good as I can with my natural talent, and knowing that I'm clean I can sleep well at night."

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