IOC chief tells how baseball can return
Rogge said the best baseball athletes aren't competing.
SINGAPORE (AP) -- 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. The sport also was hurt by its perceived ties to baseball.
Both were tossed out Friday, 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.
"In four years, a federation can do a lot of improvement," he said.
Softball and baseball hold deep American roots, and their removal reflects the IOC's heavy European influence. But the decision affects thousands of players worldwide. Baseball, in particular, is popular in the Caribbean, Latin America and East Asia.
American IOC member Anita DeFrantz, a leading advocate for women's sports, said softball had been unfairly linked with baseball's problems. She said softball -- a female-only Olympic sport -- brings its top players to the Olympics and has no doping problem.
DeFrantz suggested ways softball could find its way back for 2012: London organizers could request the sport's inclusion; IOC members could reconsider their decision; the IOC could waive its rule on completing the program seven years before the games.
Just as startling as the removal of baseball and softball was the IOC's rejection of the five sports in line to replace them: rugby, squash, karate, golf and roller sports. Squash and karate were nominated, then overwhelmingly shot down in a final vote. With two-thirds approval required, members voted 63-39 against squash and 63-38 against karate.
"Ultimately, the session was of the opinion that none of the five sports would add extra value," Rogge said.
Rogge said the IOC would consider changing the rules to allow for simple majority approval and presentations before the vote.
"If there are too many hurdles for them, you have to bring down the hurdles," Rogge said. "It's fair that Olympic sports and non-Olympic sports have a level playing field."
Rogge spoke after a meeting featuring London's 54-50 victory over Paris in the final round of voting for the 2012 host. Moscow, New York and Madrid were eliminated earlier in the most glamorous and fiercely contested bid race.
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