Despite scandal shame, Americans vow clean team in Beijing
CHICAGO: Despite doping scandals that have shamed athletics star Marion Jones and wounded faith in all sports, US Olympic leaders vowed on Tuesday to send no dope cheats to the Beijing Olympics.
US Olympic Committee chairman Peter Ueberroth and chief executive Jim Scherr said extra measures beyond a greater number of doping tests have been taken to ensure a squad not using performance-enhancing drugs.
“This will be a clean team,” Ueberroth said.
A disgraced Jones was forced to return medals from the 2000 Sydney Olympics after admitting she was a dope cheat in a scandal that saw her jailed for lying to investigators by saying she never took performance-enhancing drugs.
Her relay team-mates also lost their medals as a result of the scandal, which Ueberroth said served as a warning to potential future dope cheats.
“They hadn’t seen the penalties. Now they’ve seen them, whether it be dignity lost or jail time. All those factors have come together,” Ueberroth said.
Similar US assurances before past Olympics were proven wrong by Jones, so Ueberroth knows he might face a sceptical audience in the court of world opinion when he keeps details of enhanced anti-doping measures private.
“We want to do everything we can to back up the words,” he said. “We’ve seen the people who have suffered from cheating. We want to build a reputation of bringing clean teams to international competitions.
“The exact steps we’re taking are not something we’re going to talk about.”
But Ueberroth cited the growth of the US Anti-Doping Agency since the 2000 Olympics and a 2004 USOC change in leadership that put the matter on his watch.
“It’s not all the way there but it’s getting better. We don’t have a guarantee but we’re pleased with 2004, 2006 and I think we’re going to be pleased with 2008,” he said. – AFP