POSTED: November 30th 2016

NEIL WILSON: Time for the Olympics to put 2016 behind it

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© Bigstock

THE NEIL WILSON COLUMN / An exclusive, authoritative series from Sports Features Communications

(SFC) Olympic historian Bill Mallon's analysis of announcements by the IOC and the Court of Arbitration for Sport has concluded that the number of athletes sanctioned by re-tests of samples from the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games has passed one hundred.

To be precise, he says, there are 104 up to November 25. Among them are 52 medallists and 14 Olympic champions. Most damaging are the percentage from Russia and its former Soviet bloc allies. To be exact, 82.7%.

That is a staggering number by any definition. One third almost exactly from Russia itself. And these totals do not include the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi in 2014 when, if the former director of the Moscow anti-doping laboratory, Grigory Rodchenkov, is to be believed, the samples of Russia's potential medallists were swopped for 'clean' urine.

Nor does it include the many Russians caught outside of those two Olympic Games. Only this week 2011 world heptathlon champion Tatiana Chernova was stripped of that title by CAS when they confirmed bans on two other Russian athletes outside of the Olympic re-tests.

Whether the vast number of doping cases coming out of Russia is presently state-sponsored, as Rodchenkov claims, or a cultural legacy of Soviet days may become more apparent next week when Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren published his second report commissioned by WADA.

Oddly, his announcement of results in London next Friday will come the day after the IOC executive board concludes three days of scheduled meetings in Lausanne. Its president Thomas Bach will appear before the world's media there on the very eve of McLaren's pronouncement.

Will Bach and the executive board have been in possession of the report? One would hope so. WADA has made several PR errors this year but not to brief an equal partner in its existence with at least the bullet points would be unforgiveable.

The problem for the IOC may come later from two other directions. The Russians have commissioned their own inquiry which this week claimed to have interviewed more than 50 athletes, coaches, officials and technicians, including former deputy sports minister Yuri Nagornykh whom Rodchenkov claims was the leading light in the 'urine-swopping' in 2014.

There is a third inquiry in progress under the chairmanship of the IOC's own Ethics Commission chair Guy Canivet, a group formed by the IOC after Bach called McLaren's first report  a "shocking and unprecedented attack on the integrity of sport".

What if one disagrees with the others? What if neither of the other inquiries support McLaren? Precedent suggests that McLaren will come down harshly on the Russians, that Russia's inquiry will vindicate the state and scapegoat the odd individual while Canivet will be left as arbitrator between the two.

And Canivet remember represents the IOC whose members slammed the evidence of the first McLaren report and gave Russia a free pass to the Rio Olympics.

Disharmony now would be disastrous for sport.  The IOC needs to make a clean breast of the past, act harshly on the guilty who are exposed and move on. If not, sport's annus horribilis will have been in vain.

** NEIL WILSON reported his first Olympic Games in Munich in 1972. He has since covered another nine summer and nine winter Olympics for various newspapers, including The Independent and the Daily Mail with whom he has worked for the last 19 years as Athletics and Olympic correspondent. He was Britain's Sports Journalist of the Year in 1984 and is the author of seven books.

****The views expressed are the author's own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sports Features Communications.

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