Updated December 23 with IOC response
PHOENIX, Arizona, December 4. SOME news was made early this month in Swimming World’s latest article presenting some of the most intense responses regarding our landmark decision to strip the drug-fueled East Germans of their World and European Swimmers of the Year awards.
USA Swimming, in a Swimming World request for response from multiple organizations involved in the situation, produced a statement from its president Bruce Stratton stating that USA Swimming is in support of stripping medals and records from cheaters.
To its credit, USA Swimming was the only organization that responded with a direct statement within a reasonable amount of time. Swimming Canada also responded, forwarding us to the Canadian Olympic Committee to handle an Olympic-specific request. A few weeks later, the IOC weighed in on the topic as well.
“The issues surrounding the alleged drug use of the East German swimmers have been extremely complex. This is a sensitive topic that has affected our swimming community, especially the athletes competing during that time period. USA Swimming is always in support of keeping the sport of swimming clean from illegal drug use. If there was doping involved in the achievement of past Olympic medals or records, we believe that the medals should be stripped and the records should be invalidated.”
Although one has to strip away some of the lawsuit-dodging qualifying terms like “alleged” and “if” in this particular situation, Stratton is now on record representing USA Swimming stating that “medals should be stripped and the records should be invalidated.”
Now, all it will take is for USA Swimming to internally get past the alleged part of the equation, which is surprising considering the German government admitted it happened, and nearly all of those involved admitted that it happened, and Swimming World produced the Stasi files that demonstrated it happened.
Once USA Swimming accepts these facts, the next step is for it to convince the USOC and FINA to make a push within the IOC to make things right.
Although the International Olympic Committee hid behind its self-imposed statute of limitations again regarding East Germany’s fraudulent activity in swimming in the 70s and 80s, the organization at least sent a response to Swimming World following our landmark decision to strip the East Germans of World and European Swimmer of the Year awards.
Emmanuelle Moreau, the IOC’s Head of Media Relations, sent the following in response to Swimming World’s call that it do something about East Germany defrauding the athletic process for nearly two decades.
“Withdrawing and reallocating Olympic medals follows strict processes. Speaking of doping cases in general, the IOC can only take sanctions upon clear evidence and must follow the international procedures and standards as set up by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), including the rules on the statute of limitations. Once the statute of limitations has passed, the IOC cannot force any athlete to give back his or her medal nor ask the respective IF [International Federation] to change the relevant sporting result.”
It looks like the IOC and FINA, who decided to ignore the issue by not sending any response at all, don’t plan on doing anything about the situation.
The IOC’s response does, however, put the onus on FINA as the one organization that could potentially fix some of these issues. The IOC clearly states that it cannot ask the respective International Federation to change the relevant sporting result.
Although, in other news from our response article today, that might be easier said than done. Wendy Boglioli, a 1976 Olympic gold and bronze medalist and activist regarding correcting the record, stated today that a member of the IOC and a member of the USOC in separate conversations weren’t exactly supportive of the cause.
Boglioli stated that the IOC member said it would be too difficult to make this situation right, and the USOC member told her to shut up in fear that the IOC could become vindictive and start dropping the hammer on U.S. athletes. These conversations happened in the 90s, and while nothing has been done on the IOC front, it’s obvious that correcting the record for the East Germans would not have stopped the anti-doping movement from catching the U.S. based track and field athletes and/or Lance Armstrong.
What the swimming community can do now is to become vocal with the IOC and FINA to support correcting the record. They are not difficult to get in touch with as both are active on social media via Twitter @IOCMedia and @FINA1908.