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Ditch the dais in drug protest: Burmester

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 1/08/2016

Former Olympic swimmer Moss Burmester is urging medallists at the Rio Games to refuse to mount the dais in a protest against doping.

Kiwi Burmester, who was fourth in the 200m butterfly at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and Commonwealth champion in 2006, wants athletes to make a stand after the International Olympic Committee failed to ban Russia from the Games for systematic state-backed doping.

The 35-year-old called the lack of action "an absolute joke and spineless cop-out".

"As a former Olympic athlete it is soul-destroying to know without doubt that I was competing against athletes who were dirty and to witness this still happening to clean athletes today," he said on his personal website of the #StandDown campaign.

"As an athlete we know who the cheats are in our sport, but due to heavy repercussions from governing bodies and the likely wrath incurred, most are too frightened to speak out or try and do anything about it."

He asked athletes to refuse to mount the steps of the dais to receive medals to show their displeasure despite the possible ramifications.

"While making political statements at an Olympic Games is against Olympic charter and carries heavy penalties I believe if clean athletes, retired athletes and the public band together, we will have strength in numbers.

"This is a stand against the IOC and their pitifully weak decision to not uphold the integrity and core principles of the Olympic Games.

"Something has to be done to say we are not okay with it being swept under the carpet."

He has the support of 10,000m runner Zane Robertson who was critical of the IOC's decision.

"Stand down is a great solution if you are beaten by a drug cheat," he posted.

Acting on the World Anti-Doping Agency's McLaren Report, the IOC left it to governing bodies of individual sports to decide if Russian athletes could compete at Rio.

WADA had demanded a blanket ban on Russian athletes in Rio which was supported by several national anti-doping agencies as well as by some athletes groups.

But the IOC allowed Russian athletes with spotless doping records and sufficient international drugs tests to compete, saying it would be unfair to punish clean athletes along with cheats.

Only one Russian track and field athlete has been cleared to compete while a host of others have been banned from the Rio Games due to doping sanctions they have received in the past.

More than 250 Russian athletes from an original team of 387 have been cleared to compete but still await the green light this week from a three-member IOC panel that has the final say.

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