Lewis accuses track chiefs of cover-ups

Track legend Carl Lewis on Sunday accused anti-doping officials of "lies and cover-ups" to protect athletes.

Track legend Carl Lewis on Sunday accused anti-doping officials of "lies and cover-ups" to protect athletes.

The retired American, who won four gold medals at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, has been a long-time critic of doping control, but his criticism of track chiefs was one of his strongest so far.

"The sport is losing credibility because people know it is dirty," Lewis told reporters in Monte Carlo, where he is a candidate for the International Amateur Athletic Federation's athlete of the century award. "We need to change the whole moral standard of the sport."

"The only answer is to stop the cover-ups. It is not about testing, it is about lies and cover-ups," Lewis said.

Lewis, now pursuing an acting career, said he hasn't watched a track meet since retiring.

But the 38-year-old has had talks with White House drugs chief Barry R McCaffrey and is eager to support the US government's fight against doping.

Lewis said that authorities turn a blind eye to many infractions and contended that it is "no coincidence" that most of the current high-profile drug controversies concern athletes over 30.

On Friday, the IAAF referred the cases of 32-year-old high jump world record holder Javier Sotomayor and 1992 100-meter Olympic Champion Linford Christie, 38, to arbitration after the athletes' national federations had refused to implement bans.

"How can the English federation clear Linford and then go and ask a company for sponsorship? It is ridiculous," Lewis said.

Lewis said that sentences for athletes testing positive for banned drugs should be much tougher.

"A two-year ban tells athletes that it is OK to take drugs," he said. "We must have a climate where if someone is tested positive, they have everything taken away."

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