April 7 - International Skiing Federation (FIS) secretary-general Sarah Lewis has claimed a series of doping scandals in cross-country skiing in the early part of the twenty-first century provided impetus for much needed reform in the sport.
Speaking during a panel discussion on disciplinary procedures as part of the LawAccord meeting here this morning, Lewis claimed dominant "conservative" factions in the sport had continually battled against changes necessary to adapt to the modern age.
But after five Finnish athletes tested positive on home soil at the 2001 Nordic skiing World Championships, followed by three high profile scandals on the biggest stage at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, there was a realisation that changes had to occur.
"Cross country had not really changed for 50 years and there were conservative elements resisting all attempts to change," said Lewis at a meeting that is part of the SportAccord International Convention.
"And cross-country has now gone from strength to strength in recent years, with the introduction of mass start and relay events as well as the 'Tour de Ski' over the Christmas period, and the huge success that was Sochi 2014."
"It required a major incident to achieve this.
"That's what it took but we took the opportunity and were able to move on with it."
Lewis's views on how disciplinary cases can have a major affect on the development of sporting federations was echoed by two other representatives speaking alongside her.
Pierre Ketterer, a former UEFA official now Head of Regulatory, Governance and Corporate Affairs at the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), claimed that although most disciplinary cases are dealt with at a national level, just a single case on an international scale can have a major impact.
He cited the scandal involving Lance Armstrong and its impact on the International Cycling Union (UCI), as well as the recent case involving UEFA and the illegal transfer activity of Spanish club giants Barcelona.
A similar point was reiterated by Thomas Lund, secretary general of the Badminton World Federation (BWF), in relation to the disqualification of four women's singles players during London 2012 after they deliberately attempted to lose round-robin matches in order to ensure a better draw in the later stage.
Lund claimed the creating of independent appeals panels by the BWF ahead of the incident ultimately made it easier to conduct a prompt and rigorous investigation, despite the huge international attention generated by the incident.
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