Fina hires lawyer to probe dope allegations

LONDON • Swimming's world governing body Fina has appointed one of the most respected names in sports law to investigate revelations of doping and the cover-up of positive tests in the sport in Russia and China.

Professor Ulrich Haas, an attorney who sits on the Court of Arbitration for Sport, was hired by Fina as an investigator after The Times of London reported details of the doping. But the organisation did not announce his appointment nor has it made public the terms of reference of his review.

After the details were put to Fina by the newspaper, a spokesman confirmed Haas' appointment and said that the governing body expected his report before the end of this month. Although with the Olympics starting in Rio de Janeiro on Aug 5, that leaves precious little time for any sanctions to be applied and possibly appealed against.

Olivier Niggli, the new director general of the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada), said he hoped there would be a positive outcome from the investigation.

"Fina has appointed an independent person to look at that," he said.

The Times of London reported in April that two positive tests by Russian swimmers for the blood-boosting drug EPO were ignored and that banned coaches continued working with Russian swimmers.

Chinese swimming is being investigated over claims that five positive drug tests were covered up to avoid negative publicity before the Olympic trials.

On Wednesday, the 30-year-old Turkish middle distance runner Asli Cakir Alptekin, who last year was stripped of her 1,500m gold from London 2012, failed in an attempt to have her eight-year doping ban reduced.

Wada also said it is in possession of the bags of blood seized in the Operation Puerto police raids in 2006.

A Spanish court ordered last month for 200 bags to be released for drug testing, after a successful appeal by the International Cycling Union, the Italian Olympic Committee, the Spanish Cycling Federation and Wada against a 2013 decision to destroy them.

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 08, 2016, with the headline 'Fina hires lawyer to probe dope allegations'. Print Edition | Subscribe