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  • Baseball Leader: WBC Aids Olympics Return


    <TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=5 align=right border=0> <TBODY> <TR> <TD> <TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width=150 border=0> <TBODY> <TR> <TD colSpan=2><IMG src="/_images/articles/OldStories/japan250.jpg"></TD></TR> <TR> <TD style="PADDING-RIGHT: 5px; PADDING-LEFT: 5px; PADDING-BOTTOM: 5px; PADDING-TOP: 5px"><SPAN class=caption><B>Japanese baseball legend Sadaharu Oh, manager of Japan, celebrates the WBC victory with his team.</B></SPAN></TD> <TD width=12>&nbsp;</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>(ATR) The cause of baseball's return to the Olympics has been given a boost by the World Baseball Classic, a leader of the International Baseball Federation tells Around the Rings.<BR><BR>"The baseball final in Athens 2004 - Cuba and Japan," notes IBAF secretary general Miqel Ortin about the re-match for the WBC final Monday night in San Diego, California. The game was a sellout: more than 42,600 fans filled the seats at PETCO Park.<BR><BR>"When some people say the best players are not in the Olympics it is not 100% true," says Ortin. The winner of the classic should be considered "the true world champion" he says.<BR><BR>Japan won the inaugural WBC title 10-6 over Cuba, with only two players on the Major League Baseball roster. Teams such as the U.S. and Dominican Republic, stocked with the supposed best players in the sport, could not keep up the pace needed to win the two-week tournament. <BR><BR>Ortin also says the WBC should dispel qualms over drug testing as one of the reasons to exclude baseball from the Olympics.<BR><BR>"We follow very strictly doping controls in competition. We follow the rules of IABA and WADA," says Ortin.<BR><BR>"We are very disappointed about WADA comments," says Ortin about remarks from World Anti-Doping Agency President Richard Pound last week. In his comments, Pound expressed doubts about drug testing at the WBC.<BR><BR>Ortin says out of 108 samples collected during the tournament, only one returned a positive result, which sent a Korean player home last week.<BR><BR><BR>Ortin says all of the Major Leaguers in the tournament were subject to pre-competition testing, which went without incident. <BR><BR>"In this competition some very important players followed the doping controls," he says.<BR><BR>Looking ahead to the next edition of the WBC, set for 2009, Ortin says the IBAF is ready to collaborate with Major League Baseball to organize the tournament. Ortin says a name change may be in the works. Dates could move later into the MLB season. More teams <TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=5 align=left border=0> <TBODY> <TR> <TD> <TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width=150 border=0> <TBODY> <TR> <TD colSpan=2><IMG src="/_images/articles/OldStories/world_baseball_classic_210.jpg"></TD></TR> <TR> <TD style="PADDING-RIGHT: 5px; PADDING-LEFT: 5px; PADDING-BOTTOM: 5px; PADDING-TOP: 5px"><SPAN class=caption><B></B></SPAN></TD> <TD width=12>&nbsp;</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>could be included.<BR><BR>In any case, the tournament will come just a few months before the IOC Session in Copenhagen that will determine the program for the 2016 Olympics. After being cut from the 2012 Games, baseball's next chance to return to the Olympics comes up in a vote at the 2009 Session.<BR><BR>"We were not excluded for sport reasons," says Ortin about the IOC vote last year that cut baseball from the program.<BR><BR>"Everyday we are more clear that this is for other reasons. Political reasons maybe, not sport," he says.<BR><BR>A second successful World Baseball Classic in 2009 "would make an important argument in front of the IOC," says Ortin.<BR><BR>He says figures bear out the success of the tournament and the "power of international baseball".<BR><BR>More than 760,000 spectators attended the 39 games, covered by 5,340 journalists, roughly the same number who covered the Turin Olympics.<BR><BR><B>Your best source of news about the Olympics is, for subscribers only.</B>