US anti-doping stand could hit LA Olympics bid

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti speaks during a press conference to discuss the Los Angeles 2024 Olympic bid at the media centre of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on August 9.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti speaks during a press conference to discuss the Los Angeles 2024 Olympic bid at the media centre of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on August 9.PHOTO: AFP

RIO DE JANEIRO • A bid by Los Angeles to host the 2024 Olympic Games could fall victim to anti-American sentiment brewing within the International Olympic Committee, according to sources.

The bid, which faces competition from three European cities, risks an anti-US vote by several IOC members angry over the US' prominent role in pursuing doping allegations against Russian athletes.

The IOC will decide on bids from Los Angeles, Paris, Rome and Budapest in September next year.

At least three non-Russian IOC members, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the US' active role in highlighting the allegations of systematic Russian doping had marred the run-up to the Rio Games and tarnished the IOC brand.

"Of course the Los Angeles bid will face some consequences from this," an IOC member said.

The US Department of Justice is probing allegations of Russian doping on US soil and the US anti-doping agency (Usada) called for a total ban on Russians in Rio even as US athletes with a history of positive drugs tests competed there.

PLEA TO VOTERS

We are independent of Usoc and of the city of Los Angeles, we are private and to somehow use that against us seems misguided.

CASEY WASSERMAN, head of the Los Angeles 2024 Olympics bid team, urging the IOC members not to vote against the bid solely because of anti-American sentiments following the US' prominent role in pursuing doping allegations against Russian athletes.

It is not known how many of the IOC's 98 members would vote against the LA bid.

Elections for host cities can be decided by a handful of votes and be heavily influenced by politics.

Last year's vote for the 2022 Winter Olympics was won by Beijing, with just four votes more than Kazakhstan's Almaty.

Russia alone has three IOC members.

Casey Wasserman, the head of the LA 2024 bid team, said it would not make sense for IOC members to vote against Los Angeles on the basis of investigations totally unrelated to its bid.

"Doping agencies in America are independent. They are not under the control of the United States Olympic Committee (Usoc), they are certainly not under the control of a private independent bid which is what we are," Wasserman said.

"We are independent of Usoc and of the city of Los Angeles, we are private and to somehow use that against us seems misguided."

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti has acknowledged that there could be a backlash from some IOC members but has also distanced the bid from the actions of other independent US bodies like Usada.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 24, 2016, with the headline 'US anti-doping stand could hit LA Olympics bid'. Print Edition | Subscribe