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    Thursday, February 12, 1998

    Critics slam IOC

    By STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

      The International Olympic Committee's decision to strip Ross Rebagliati of his gold medal for inhaling pot is farcical in light of the organization's abysmal record on doping control, IOC critics are arguing.
     The IOC snatched away Rebagliati's gold and ruined his life -- at least temporarily -- because a minuscule amount of marijuana was found in the snowboarder's system.
      A source close to the IOC reminded journalists yesterday that this is the same organization that refused to strip world records posted by doped-up monsters from the former East Germany, even though an ongoing investigation proved they were systematically using everything from steroids to strychnine.
     "They took away my records from Seoul (9.79) and Rome (9.83), but they won't touch the Germans," Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson said yesterday. "I want my records back."
     The IOC has often been criticized for nailing the little fish while failing to go after the big names, criticisms that have resurfaced with the Rebagliati case.
     This is an organization that refuses to demand that all nations competing at Olympics first establish, no-notice, out-of-competition testing programs or face banishment from the Games. Canada is one of the few nations with such a program.
     Such programs are the only true deterrents to drug use and the many countries that don't have them shouldn't be allowed into the Games, anti-drug crusaders argue. They argue that nations which don't test all their Olympic athletes randomly and without prior warning, harbor cheaters.
     Rebagliati was thrown out and vilified because he inhaled pot. What about the athletes, IOC critics argue, who take part in blood doping? The IOC has yet to come with a foolproof way to test for blood doping, which certainly enhances performance more than smoking a joint.
     IOC spokesman Francois Carrard admitted yesterday that his organization, or any organization for that matter, has yet to offer any real proof that marijuana enhances performances in any way. He even classified weed in the same social group of drugs as alcohol.
     Many insiders find it ironic that the IOC would crucify one athlete for smoking pot, while providing all competitors of legal age with as much beer as they want or need to provide dope-test urine samples.