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Cookson: IOC should mull sports overhaul

UCI president says track cycling could fit into Winter Olympic program and warns other sports over doping

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LONDON (AFP) — The International Olympic Committee (IOC) should consider moving sports such as track cycling, judo, and badminton to the Winter Games, according to the president of world cycling’s governing body, the UCI.

Brian Cookson, in an interview with Press Association Sport published Tuesday, said such a change could take the pressure off the “overheated” Summer Olympics and allow those sports to have more events and more medals.

“If you have a problem with Summer Olympics where the whole thing is perceived as over-heated with too many facilities, too many sports, too many competitors and so on, why not look at moving some of the other sports that traditionally take place in the winter in the northern hemisphere indoors,” Cookson said. “So why not look at combat sports like judo, or other indoor sports like badminton, you could even say what about putting track cycling in the Winter Olympics?

“If we moved track cycling to the Winter Olympics and that allowed us to have more track cycling events and more medals then that could be a pretty good outcome. So let’s talk about those things and see what the stakeholders, the national federations, the teams and the competitors have to say about those options.”

IOC president Thomas Bach has announced a review of the whole Olympic program with the results to be presented at a special session in Monaco at the end of this year.

Cookson, who unseated Ireland’s Pat McQuaid last September as UCI president, said cycling has enjoyed huge success in the Olympics but that sports leaders should not just accept the status quo.

He added: “If you look at the London Olympics the lesson from there is the cycling events were incredibly successful from the point of view of attendance and media coverage, and there were huge crowds for the road races.

“But we shouldn’t just accept the status quo without thinking ‘what are the possibilities here?’. Thomas Bach has instituted a debate about the format for the Games and let’s think about the Winter Olympics, why does it have to be snow and ice?

“The reality these days is that the base for the Winter Olympics the last few times has been two or three hours drive away from the mountains.”

Turning to doping, something which has plagued cycling in recent years, Cookson warned that every sport needs to be aware that some of their athletes will be doping.

“There are two categories of sport, those that have a doping problem and are trying to do something about it, and cycling, I would suggest, is one of the leaders there,” he said. “The second category is those that have a doping problem and are in denial about it because there are forms of doping that affect all forms of sport.

“If you are running your sport and think that you don’t have a doping problem then I think you need a wake-up call because there will be a form of doping that you need to do something about.”