IOC: Baseball must improve testing to be reinstated

Updated: April 5, 2006, 10:28 AM ET
Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea -- Baseball was told Wednesday to toughen its fight against doping if it wants to be reinstated to the Olympics.

The International Olympic Committee last year voted to remove baseball and softball from the 2012 London Olympics. IOC president Jacques Rogge reiterated that the sports could apply in 2009 for a spot in the 2016 Summer Games.

In the meantime, Rogge said, baseball needs to take further steps in confronting performance-enhancing drugs.

"We still have issues about doping," Rogge said between sessions of an IOC executive board meeting. "Progress has been made, but not to the level where the Olympic family would accept it."

On other issues, Rogge said:

• The IOC is trying to help South Korea and North Korea field a unified Olympic team, but the two countries' Olympic committees must make it happen.

• He would recommend more funding to the National Olympic Committees out of rising IOC revenues from the sale of broadcast rights. The games in 2010 in Vancouver and 2012 in London already have brought $2.9 billion in rights sales in North America and most of Europe, with sales to Japan, South Korea and other markets still to come.

• Construction is on track and environmental problems are being addressed for the 2008 Beijing Games, though he did not provide specifics.

His comments on baseball underlined how doping has become a hot spot in the sport's troubled relationship with the Olympics. When the IOC decided to remove baseball and softball, the prime reasons were economics and popularity, not doping. The IOC wants to reduce the exorbitant expense of staging an Olympics. Baseball and softball were seen as being played mainly in the Americas and part of East Asia.

In recent months, a California lab implicated by some Olympic athletes allegedly provided banned substances to major league stars.

The World Anti-Doping Agency, which is affiliated with the Olympics, said Tuesday it's not clear whether drug testing at the World Baseball Classic last month complied with its standards.

The elimination of baseball and softball reduced the number of sports on the London program to 26, but left the Olympics searching for a better way to determine the appropriate scale of the games.

A group of sports federations involved in the Summer Olympics, known by the acronym ASOIF, recommended Wednesday that the IOC designate the 26 current sports as "core sports" and that changes to the roster be made only for "substantial reasons."

The recommendation will be considered by the IOC along with other proposals before being put to a vote next year, Rogge said. The ASOIF proposal would allow the IOC to add sports on a one-time basis based on traditions of a host country.

The proposal comes too late for Beijing, which was rebuffed in its attempt to include a form of Chinese martial arts into the 2008 Games. However, the proposal could allow a sport such as rugby into the 2012 London Olympics.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press