February 5

IOC considers independent body for whistleblowers

STEPHEN WILSON, AP Sports Writer

SOCHI, Russia —  The IOC will consider setting up an independent body that allows whistleblowers to report information on doping, match-fixing and sexual abuse without fear of reprisals.

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International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, left, talks with Director General Christophe De Kepper, right, and executive board member John Coates, prior to opening the IOC's general assembly at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

AP

Swiss member Denis Oswald made the proposal Wednesday during a debate on "protecting clean athletes," one of the key topics of the International Olympic Committee's three-day assembly on long-term strategy.

Oswald said athletes are often aware of wrongdoing and should have a place to pass on their information anonymously.

"Some federations have an early warning system, but they don't really work," he said. "There is a certain reticence to turn to one's own federation. They could have retaliatory measures taken against them."

"We should set up a neutral body that anyone can approach," Oswald said. "It's a kind of clearing house between the federations and the whistleblower. It would guarantee total anonymity and ensure that no retaliation is taken against those who come forward."

French member Jean-Claude Killy said the body could have an expanded role that also covers sexual and physical abuse.

IOC President Thomas Bach welcomed the proposals and said they would be discussed by a special working group that will submit recommendations later this year.

The proposal came up in a wide-ranging discussion in which members called for tougher doping sanctions against coaches, trainers and other members of an athlete's "entourage."

Britain's Princess Anne said athletes need more education and information on the dangers of doping and betting.

Danish Crown Prince Frederic said doping control officers should be given freer access to enter countries where they can conduct surprise, out-of-competition tests.

Former Olympic high jump champion Stefan Holm of Sweden, speaking at his first meeting since being elected to the IOC in September, called for a lifetime ban for drug cheats.

However, the IOC has already ruled out life bans because they won't stand up to legal challenges. The standard penalty is being increased from two years to four years under the new World Anti-Doping Code.

The IOC plans to carry out 2,453 tests during the Sochi Olympics, including 1,269 pre-competition controls.

"We have increased the intelligence-gathering around the world to have the tests as target-oriented as possible," Bach said.

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