Bach is part of the doping system, says Olympic discus champion

Germany's Robert Harting competing in the discus event at the German Athletics Championships last month. He will be bidding to defend his Olympic gold in Rio de Janeiro.
Germany's Robert Harting competing in the discus event at the German Athletics Championships last month. He will be bidding to defend his Olympic gold in Rio de Janeiro. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

BERLIN • Germany's Olympic discus champion Robert Harting yesterday launched a savage verbal attack on compatriot Thomas Bach for the International Olympic Committee (IOC)'s stance on state-run Russian doping.

"For me, he is a part of the doping system, not the anti-doping system. I am ashamed of Thomas Bach," said Harting, who has long been a critic of the IOC president.

"I detest this person more than ever and I am very ashamed that I have to work with him indirectly."

The IOC on Sunday declined to impose a blanket ban on all Russian competitors for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics after a World Anti-Doping Agency probe found evidence of a wide-ranging cheating system directed from the top.

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has banned all Russian competitors from the athletics section of the Rio Games, something Harting welcomes as "the correct action".

Bach defended the IOC's decision, saying it "respects the right of every clean athlete around the world" - something Harting passionately rejected.

The 31-year-old, who won the discus gold at London 2012 and three straight world titles from 2009 to 2013, said he has "no interest in feeling the pain" of any clean Russian athletes.

Harting said the IOC's decision is a setback in the battle to drive doping from sport and said he "can't understand the decision" which he finds "simply embarrassing".

He added that, under Bach's presidency, the IOC has "reached a new level of disappointment".

Harting, who will be bidding to defend his Olympic title in Rio despite tearing a chest muscle and suffering an inflamed right knee at the start of the year, is also disappointed that an IOC ethics commission opted not to allow whistleblower Yuliya Stepanova, the Russian 800-metre runner, to compete in Rio as a neutral.

He is not the only German annoyed with Bach. In protest at the IOC decision, Hans Wilhelm Gaeb, the 80-year-old former president of the German Table Tennis Association, said he will return the Olympic Order, which was awarded to him in 2006 by Bach.

"I think the decision is the severest blow to the integrity of sport and the Olympic principles," Gaeb said. "I don't want to wear the recognition of an organisation which betrays the ideals of sport."

Gaeb branded the IOC's decision on Stepanova as a "shameless act and a unique tribute to power politics".

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 27, 2016, with the headline 'Bach is part of the doping system, says Olympic discus champion'. Print Edition | Subscribe