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IOC Recognizes New Sports
Associated Press
Friday, January 30, 1998; 7:25 a.m. EST

NAGANO, Japan — Sumo wrestling, body building, speedboat racing and motorcycle racing gained provisional recognition from the International Olympic Committee today, the first step toward acceptance as Olympic sports.

The IOC executive board gave the provisional recognition to the four international federations, including body building despite its record and reputation for use of steroids and other banned drugs.

"The international federation has been observed at length by the IOC,'' IOC director general Francois Carrard said.

"From what we have been told, the abuses and excesses of drugs were caused by outside elements and not caused by the federation. We know the federation is doing a lot to eliminate drugs and to have its sport clean.''

The recognition of sumo will be particularly welcome in Japan, where the ancient practice is one of the country's most popular sports. Sumo wrestlers will take part in the opening ceremonies of the Nagano Games on Feb. 7.

Recognition of the four federations is valid for a two-year trial period. After that, full recognition can be granted by the IOC. Then, the sport becomes eligible for Olympic status.

"The policy of the IOC is to open the doors to all sports organizations under an Olympic umbrella,'' Carrard said. "Recognition doesn't necessarily mean they will go on the Olympic program. And recognized federations do not necessarily aspire to be on the Olympic program.''

There are more than two dozen IOC-recognized federations that are not in the Olympics, including golf, bowling, ballroom dancing, rugby and squash.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press

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