IOC President Thomas Bach wrote U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry Monday to say that the IOC is confident the Russian government will not discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender athletes, coaches or spectators during the 2014 Sochi Olympics. The letter was sent in response to a letter Kerry sent Bach in late September. In that letter, Kerry expressed concern about the effect Russia's anti-gay propaganda law may have on athletes and spectators during the Olympics. In his reply, Bach wrote, “One of the benefits of the Games is that they draw attention to a wide range of important issues outside the world of sport and beyond the remit of the International Olympic Committee. We accept the fact that others use the Games to highlight issues that they believe warrant more attention. However, it is important to stress that the IOC’s remit does not extend to the internal affairs of sovereign nations, no matter how we may feel about them. ... The IOC cannot hope to influence national legislation outside the scope of the Games and has to respect the law of each host country.”
Jamaica is on the brink of being cast into the int'l wilderness Sunday night after the World Anti-Doping Agency "vowed to take action that could mean the island is deemed non-compliant with its drug-testing responsibilities," according to Ben Rumsby of the London TELEGRAPH. WADA President John Fahey "delivered a withering rebuke to Jamaica over its 'farcical' attempts to defer an extraordinary audit of its anti-doping programme until the new year." WADA Dir General David Howman "had planned to lead a commission to Jamaica after being invited by the island’s prime minister to investigate revelations from the former executive director of the Jamaican Anti-Doping Commission that it conducted no drug tests in the five months leading up to last year’s Olympics." JADCO’s "refusal to accommodate the commission during the remainder of 2013 infuriated Fahey," who Sunday night promised an "appropriate" response, with non-compliance with the WADA Code the ultimate sanction. That "could have dire consequences for Jamaica's world-class athletes including Usain Bolt and company, who may be barred from competing at athletics’ biggest events -- including the Olympics -- until the row is resolved." Fahey said, "The current position is unacceptable to WADA and we’re not going to take it lying down, their suggestion that they’ll talk to us next year" (TELEGRAPH, 10/21).
OPTIONS OPEN: REUTERS' Ian Ransom reported Fahey "stopped short of threatening sanctions but said there were 'a number of options' open to WADA." The "most severe would be to declare Jamaica 'non-compliant' with the WADA code," which would pave the way for global sports bodies like the IOC or int'l federations to impose punitive measures. Only WADA code-compliant sports "can participate in the Olympic Games." JADCO was "not immediately available for comment" (REUTERS, 10/21).
JAMAICA HITS BACK: In London, Rick Broadbent reported the governing body of Jamaican athletics "has poured scorn on claims that the country’s athletes could be thrown out of the Olympic Games." Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association President Dr. Warren Blake said, “I don’t think it’s a possibility at all. What would London have been without Jamaica? What would 2012 have been without our athletes? It’s not going to happen” (LONDON TIMES, 10/23).
Scientists from the Russian space agency "have been drafted in to improve the performance of the country's bobsled and luge teams." In the latest example of Russia's government "lavishing resources on athletes to chase medals" at the country's first home Winter Olympics, the Roskosmos agency "will provide space-age materials and aerodynamic expertise" (RIA NOVOSTI, 10/22). ... Int'l police body Interpol "will work with the organizers of the Olympics in Brazil to improve safety for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janerio." Interpol’s major events support team "will be in Rio to help local authorities police the event." Interpol "will track stolen and lost travel documents, provide DNA analysis and hunt for internationally wanted suspects" (BLOOMBERG, 10/22). ... Russia’s Olympic torch "was dramatically engulfed by flames during a nationwide relay ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi." Footage posted online "appears to show the Siberian-made torch briefly spouting flames over a meter long, before being seized by accompanying officials, as it was passing through Kostroma," a small city near Moscow, on Oct. 18 (RIA NOVOSTI, 10/22).