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Tour doping affair shows progress: IOC

The International Olympic Committee on Thursday said the doping problem at this year's Tour de France was the result of increased anti-doping efforts.

other Updated: Jul 26, 2007 21:32 IST

The International Olympic Committee on Thursday said the doping problem at this year's Tour de France was the result of increased anti-doping efforts.

Cycling's premier event has been reeling after three riders, including leader Michael Rasmussen and pre-race favourite Alexander Vinokourov, were thrown out over anti-doping rule violations.

IOC members have in the past few days suggested cycling could be removed from the Olympic programme of future Games due to its bad doping record.

"It is understandable that the incidents of the past days leave sports lovers feeling deceived," the IOC said in a statement.

"Despite this, it is important to recognise that an increase in exposure of those who are not playing by the rules is an important signal that increased efforts in the fight against doping do have an impact," it said.

The IOC said the Tour was outside its authority, in an effort to calm fears that cycling could be thrown out of the Olympic sports programme.

"The revelations serve as a valuable reminder that the fight against doping in sport is a daily battle which must be fought in concert by the sports authorities, sports teams, athletes and coaches, and governments," the IOC said.

"The recent doping-related events at the Tour de France, whilst disturbing, indicate a painful, slow but nonetheless significant shift in attitude against those who choose to violate the rules in sporting competition."

Denmark's Rasmussen was dramatically sacked by Rabobank on Wednesday after the Dutch team said he had lied about his training whereabouts in June.

Rasmussen's dismissal was the latest blow to the Tour's credibility, coming soon after the announcement of positive dope tests on Vinokourov and Italy's Cristian Moreni, whose teams then left the race.

With reports of IOC members saying cycling could become the first sport ever to be scrapped from the Olympics over its failure to crack down on doping, an IOC source told Reuters on Thursday this was not on the cards.

"Regarding this matter, its not on the IOC agenda," the source said.

The decision to remove a sport from the Olympic programme rests with the annual IOC Session and needs a simple majority.

The next IOC Session will be held in mid-2008 but it is unlikely that anything as drastic will be put forward before the Word Anti-Doping Agency releases its full report on the adherence of international federations to its doping code in late 2008.