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Former Bay of Plenty Times person of the year protests drug cheats

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Bay of Plenty Times Person of the Year, Swimmer Moss Burmester. PHOTO/FILE
Bay of Plenty Times Person of the Year, Swimmer Moss Burmester. PHOTO/FILE

Retired New Zealand Olympic swimmer Moss Burmester continues his stand against drugs in sport, with the sentiment echoed by New Zealand's most successful Olympian.

Burmester, who was the 2006 Bay of Plenty Times person of the year said he was "pretty peeved off" about the International Olympics Committee decision to allow Russia into the 2016 Rio games, and decided to propose the protest #StandDown for #CleanSport.

"I gave them [IOC] the benefit of the doubt and said I thought they would blanket ban Russia, I thought the evidence against them was just overwhelming."

"Just because it's systematic you know, I realise there'll be clean athletes in there and what's worse, athletes who have actually been forced into this system, but at the end of the day being a government-led systematic doping, I thought they had no other option than to."

Ian Ferguson, who won three gold medals at the 1984 Los Angeles Games and another gold in Korea four years later, said drug cheats needed to be forced out of top flight sport.

"It's been around for a long time as a problem," he said in an interview on Newstalk ZB today. "They've always had to overlook countries like Russia and China doing it. Pretty much everyone knows what they're doing."

"The IOC really needs to take this on board, that everybody else is just absolutely finished with all this crap ... it's time for everybody to get clean now - and that's what the athletes are saying. Let's all be clean and get on with it," Ferguson said.

Burmester thought if clean current and retired athletes, as well as the public, banded together the message would get through.

"It's #standdown from the dais, if they've lost faith in the IOC and WADA to deliver a clean playing field."

"I'd love to see change, if a serious message was sent then IOC would have to stand up and listen."

Burmester had reached out to athletes not competing at the games, but decided to not directly engage with athletes at the Rio Olympics.

"It's the same as when I was there, I had blinkers on and didn't want to be distracted," he said.

"We know who the cheats are in our sport, but due to heavy repercussions from governing bodies and the likely wrath incurred, most are too frightened to speak out," he said.

Burmester said a lot of the New Zealand public did not realise how "clean and legitimate" drug testing was here.

"It's very by the book, very rigorous, but unfortunately there are systems overseas who don't have that infrastructure or a moral compass, their systems are a compete failure and that's how their getting away with it."

Drug Free Sport New Zealand (DFSNZ) chief executive Graeme Steel said it was not in a position to specifically support athletes standing down from the dais at the Games, "but DFSNZ does support Moss and other athletes who wish to speak out on the issue and advocate for clean sport".

DFSNZ were involved in a group of 13 national anti-doping agencies who wrote to IOC president Thomas Bach asking to suspend and exclude the Russian Olympic Committee from Rio, deny entry to all Russian athletes, and to apply a uniform criteria to decide if individual Russian athletes should be allowed to participate under a neutral flag.

Burmester represented New Zealand at the Athens and Beijing Olympics.

New Zealand Olympic Committee did not respond when asked for comment.

-Additional reporting from NZHerald

- Bay of Plenty Times

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