N.Korea's Doping Taint Threatens Inter-Korean Olympic Teams

      February 18, 2019 13:58

      The International Olympic Committee is struggling to resolve North Korea's recent designation as a "non-compliant" nation by the World Anti-Doping Agency, which threatens inter-Korean cooperation in the next Summer Olympics.

      IOC President Thomas Bach met Friday with South Korean Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Do Jong-whan and his North Korean counterpart Kim Il-gukat at IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, and said all members of unified Korean sports teams for the Tokyo Olympics will undergo drug testing.

      But he said Kim "has expressed full commitment of [North Korea] to remedy this situation as soon as possible." 

      In a separate statement, the IOC said it will "explore the possibility with WADA and other parties of providing additional support" to the North in its anti-doping efforts.

      Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Do Jong-whan (left) poses with his North Korean counterpart Kim Il-guk (right) and International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach at IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland on Friday. /Xinhua-Yonhap

      A country deemed non-compliant with WADA regulations cannot take part in or host any international sports competitions hosted or organized by WADA.

      Returning home Sunday from Switzerland, Do said, "The two Koreas will form unified teams in women’s basketball and ice hockey, rowing and judo, and to prepare for Olympic qualification, we decided to begin joint training soon."

      The IOC will grant final approval for the four joint squads around March.

      The number of unified teams could increase down the road, according to Ryu Seung-min, a member of the IOC's Athletes' Commission who attended Friday's meeting. "Some disciplines like table tennis and canoeing could still field unified teams after talks are held and athletes' opinions are gathered," he said.  

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