Harri Syväsalmi of FINCIS disappointed with IOC shirking responsibility

Harri Syväsalmi, Secretary General at the Finnish Center for Integrity in Sports (FINCIS) was disappointed with the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) decision. In their decision, the IOC did not sufficiently take into account Russia’s systematic, state-directed pro-doping activities. In addition, the IOC shifted the responsibility for the selection of Russian athletes to the international federations.

Earlier this week, FINCIS participated in a petition by 14 national antidoping agencies to completely exclude the Russian national Olympic Committee from the Rio Olympic Games. The signatory countries of the petition (in addition to Finland, the letter was signed by Austria, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States) have been disappointed with the IOC’s decision.

“The IOC did not have the courage to take responsibility for the entry of Russian athletes in the Olympic Games, but it shifted the responsibility for the decision to the international federations. As such, it is a good thing that Russian athletes who are able to show a comprehensive doping control history outside Russia have an opportunity to compete in the Olympic Games. Shifting the responsibility in this matter to the international federations does not show good leadership from the IOC. Furthermore, from the point of view of equality, it is problematic that Russian athletes who have been sanctioned for doping cannot participate in the Games,” says Harri Syväsalmi, Secretary General at FINCIS.

In practice, the exclusion from the Games of those guilty of antidoping rule violations will also prevent the 800 metres runner Julia Stepanova from participating in the Olympic Games in Rio. Stepanova and her spouse exposed the Russian doping system, which led to comprehensive investigations into the country’s doping situation.

Syväsalmi strongly emphasises the importance of the implementation, follow-up and monitoring of the World Anti-Doping Code, UNESCO and the Council of Europe’s Conventions Against Doping, a matter which should be paid more attention to. Comprehensive, transparent and international cooperation between the various actors will prevent similar occurrences in the future.

FINCIS has actively carried out educational activities around the world, both in terms of doping control and in training and communication. We have also executed international test mission orders to the extent allowed by our resources. We will continue to offer our expertise to be used everywhere in the world, including Russia,” Syväsalmi says.  

On 18 July, WADA published the so-called McLaren report, in which an independent group of experts found that Russia and its athletes were guilty of state-directed andidoping rule violations. This activity was begun after the 2010 Winter Olympics and it continued up to 2014. The Russian security service FSB and the Russian Antidoping Agency RUSADA were involved. The activities were carried out under the leadership of the Russian Ministry of Sport.

Read the IOC decision.

For more information please contact:
Harri Syväsalmi
Secretary General, FINCIS
Tel. +358 40 557 7725