By The Associated Press
A group of Belgian sports officials, including the Olympic team leader, launched an attack Wednesday on World Anti-Doping Agency rules, arguing they were hypocritical, excessive and unfairly targeted athletes. ‘=
Besides Olympic team leader Robert Van de Walle, the 11 officials also included Wilfried Meert, organizer of the Van Damme athletics meet, former judo coach Jean-Marie Dedecker and doctor Yvan Demol of the QuickStep cycling team.
In an open letter published by De Standaard newspaper yesterday, they wrote “the fight against doping has turned into a moral crusade, a sort of witch hunt with great symbolic value.”
It criticized the two-year suspension for a first infraction for a serious doping offence and a possible lifetime ban for a second sentencing.
“Such sanctions are beyond all proportions,” the letter reads. “It is not a disciplinary measure but criminal punishment.”
IOC president Jacques Rogge, who is also Belgian, said he had a “totally different opinion than the signatories” but refused to be drawn into the debate further.
The letter said current practices undermined the right to privacy of athletes and their defense.
The WADA rules were backed by national governments and sports federations in 2003.
The Associated Press