New Zealand Olympic Committee happy with IOC's response on Russian doping video

NZOC Secretary General Kereyn Smith.
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NZOC Secretary General Kereyn Smith.

New Zealand Olympic Committee secretary general Kereyn Smith has labelled the Russian doping scandal "unbelievable and shocking" but has reiterated confidence in the International Olympic Committee's course of action for the Rio Games.

The IOC on Tuesday (NZT Wednesday) delayed its decision on banning Russia from next month's Games in Brazil to explore the legal ramifications.

This follows the release of the McLaren report on Monday (NZT Tuesday) which revealed shocking state-controlled doping practices in Russia.

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On Wednesday Smith said New Zealand understood the complex legal issues involved but remained heartened by the IOC's desire to impose the heaviest sanctions available.

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The IOC was clearly wary of making a radical decision ahead of a Court of Arbitration (CAS) hearing on Friday that is due to rule on the dispute between Russia, 68 of its athletes and the governing body of world athletics over their Rio participation after the IAAF banned the country from the Rio track and field programme.

The IOC's executive board sought more time to make a decision when it met on Wednesday (NZ time) to discuss the biggest scandal to hit the modern Games.

Smith made it clear that in her mind, that is exactly what it is.

"We are totally supportive of the steps the IOC are taking to address this issue which I would put in the unbelievable and  shocking category," Smith said.

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"I must say I never thought in my lifetime I would see or hear of such systematic and shocking falsification of records, of cheating in terms of a country and its approach, and in terms of major disruption and disappointment for clean athletes around the world.

"The levers the IOC have at their disposal have all been activated. It's a very complex issue to ban a country and what I'm delighted to see is that they are clearly considering a collective ban, noting that there are complex issues to be navigated through. The CAS hearing will be material in terms of how they go forward."

New Zealand would have no direct input into the process of punishing Russia.

But Oceania president, Fiji's Dr Robin Mitchell, was on the committee charged with overseeing the process/ Dr Mitchell has been heavily involved in the World Anti-Doping Authority.

"So directly no, but we are available to contribute in any way, shape or form and have certainly made our views known over many, many years on this matter."

Smith said New Zealand had reiterated those to the IOC over the past 24 hours.

"We have done so via Barry Maister, New Zealand's IOC member. We also share our media views with the IOC and they have been very clear.

"What we want them to do is take the absolute toughest measures they can in terms of the Russian Olympic team within the legal framework available. We believe we have seen overnight that they are moving down that pathway and clearly they are investigating a collective ban on Russia. This is an unprecedented step."

The NZOC said the impact on the Rio Olympic Games "is significant" and they will now monitor the steps taken by the IOC and International Federations over the coming few days to assess any outcomes on behalf of the New Zealand Olympic team and take action accordingly. 

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 - Stuff

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