You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Ditch the dais in drug protest: Burmester

NZN 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 and he has the support of a current New Zealand Olympian.

Runner Zane Robertson is backing a campaign from Burmester, who was fourth in the 200m butterfly at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and Commonwealth champion in 2006, which wants athletes to make a stand against drug cheats.

It comes after the International Olympic Committee failed to ban Russia from the Games for systematic state-backed doping as revealed in the World Anti-Doping Agency's McLaren report.

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.

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."

Robertson, who will run in the 10,000m at Rio, has leant his support to the campaign.

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

NZ team's chef de mission Rob Waddell said they were aware of Robertson's comments.

"There's a wide range of opinion out there - some people feel very strongly it's the right thing and others feel differently that it may not be - we respect that.

"Most of the athletes at the moment are just focused on getting on with the job and performing. We haven't had anyone come and say specifically what they might or might not do on the dais," he told NZ Newswire.

The IOC left it to governing bodies of individual sports to decide if Russian athletes could compete at Rio.

WADA had sought a blanket ban 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.

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.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon