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Doping in Sport Conference

Feb 1, 1999  - Karin Helmstaedt

LAUSANNE - The IOC's General Director Francois Carrard gave a press conference to open the World Conference on Doping in Sport in today in Lausanne. What was said left little optimism among journalists that serious issues would ever be properly addressed.

To every question put to him, Mr. Carrard had an empty answer that managed to evade the subject matter. His answer to most questions was, "That is a topic that remains open for discussion during the conference....you will see."

Interestingly, in his opening remarks, Carrard detailed a meeting of the IOC Executive Board that had taken place earlier; the items up for discussion had more to do with IOC corruption than doping, an indication that the main theme here in Lausanne could be sidelined altogether by the IOC's recent corruption scandals.

As the conference came to an end, Mr. Andrew Jennings, the author of the Lords of the Rings and the New Lords of the Rings, stood up and challenged Mr. Carrard on the subject of the "lies" he published in his books. Carrard dismissed him with a curt, "Mr. Jennings, you know what we think of your book," before winding up the questions.

Jennings, condemned by a court in Lausanne but celebrated by sports journalists, stayed on afterward to call on the press to ask "the tasteless questions." "No one has ever asked Samaranch what he did with his blue fascist uniform when General Franco died," he said. He called Samaranch and his IOC cohorts "a bunch of sleezebags" who should not be allowed to control doping. "If people are serious about this doping conference, they have to ask the hard questions. How do they justify not telling us about 9 extra positive tests in Los Angeles?"

Jennings mentioned numerous well-known cases of IOC misdeeds, and added that Canada's Dick Pound was not above suspicion. "I'm sorry that a guy like Dick Pound, who comes from a country with an upright democratic system, is still trying to convince us that the IOC should carry on into the next century," he said. Jennings then broke up the huddle saying, "I'm not giving a press conference....I'm a reporter here too. so where's the pub?"

Indeed if this press conference is any indication, even the hard questions may be blatanlty avoided over the next days, leaving little alternative but the well-honed cynicism of Jenning's kind.