IOC sends message to baseball with vote

Sunday, July 10, 2005

SINGAPORE -- The IOC has two suggestions for baseball if it wants to return to the Olympics after the 2012 Games: Put in place tougher doping rules, and put major leaguers on the field.

"The message is clear," International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge said. "The IOC wants clean sport, the best athletes and universality."

Baseball was singled out because major leaguers don't compete in the Olympics and its drug-testing program falls way short of international standards.

Softball must increase its global appeal to win back its place, Rogge said.

Both were tossed out last week, the first cut from the program in 69 years. They will be played at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and can reapply in 2009 for readmission at the 2016 Games.

"In the case of baseball, the best athletes are not competing and the major athletes perform in an environment where doping controls are not what we have in the Olympic world," Rogge said in concluding a weeklong IOC session.

Rogge said both sports had not done enough since the 2002 meeting in Mexico City, where the IOC put off a vote on dropping baseball, softball and modern pentathlon.

"Both sports should have read the writing on the wall in Mexico," Rogge said. "They could see that the IOC wasn't happy with the way the sports were being organized."

Twenty-six sports are now on the London program, the first time since the 1996 Atlanta Games that 28 sports have not been on the list.

Some IOC members raised the possibility of baseball and softball managing to stay alive for 2012. Rogge, however, was emphatic.

"The decision we've taken in the session is final," he said.

Rogge said the IOC would work with the two sports in Beijing, then give them a chance in 2009 to make their case for reinstatement in 2016.

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