Bubka backs tougher sanctions against cheats

SINGAPORE — Ukrainian pole vault legend Sergey Bubka wants harsher punishment for drug cheats if his bid for the most powerful position in sport is successful.

The 1988 Seoul Olympics gold medallist is one of six IOC members vying to succeed Jacques Rogge as President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) later this year, and he told TODAY that the fight against doping and corruption are two key components of his manifesto.

“In the 21st century, the biggest threat is doping, and now we have illegal betting which added (to the problem),” Bubka said.

“For that, it will be zero tolerance … Today, we preserve (biological samples) for eight years, I’m in favour of extending it to 12 to 14 years because this is something we must do.”

The six-time world champion, who is in Singapore for the IOC Athletes Commission and Forum at the Marina Bay Sands, added yesterday that, if elected, he wants a review of the IOC’s existing policies, including the ban on IOC members visiting candidate cities bidding to host the Olympics, imposed after the Salt Lake City scandal in 1998.

Bubka, 49, believes the IOC is due for another review. The last one was 13 years ago, when the IOC 2000 Commission was set up in the wake of the Salt Lake City scandal — where six IOC members were expelled for accepting bribes from the bid committee for the 2002 Winter Olympics — to review the IOC’s practices and policies.

“I’m always a team player and I want to listen to my colleagues and friends … and make a right decision on what should be done and what is important for the future of the Olympic Movement,” he said.

Reaching out to youth, controlling the size and cost of organising the Olympics, and introducing sports that appeal to the younger generation also feature in Bubka’s manifesto. “It’s a very important time for the future of the Olympic Movement, and this is a great time for the IOC to take leadership,” he said.

All six candidates will present their bids at an IOC Extraordinary Session in Lausanne, next week ahead of the elections on Sept 10 at the 125th IOC Session in Buenos Aires.

Bubka, who retired in 2001, still holds the indoor world record of 6.15m and outdoor world record of 6.14m set in 1993 and 1994 respectively. He is now an IOC Executive Board member and Deputy President of the International Association of Athletics Federation. TAN YO-HINN



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