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Anti-doping group seeks reform of ‘deeply damaged’ system

By AP - Aug 31,2016 - Last updated at Aug 31,2016

President of the World Anti-Doping Agency Craig Reedie speaks during a Symposium for Anti-Doping Organisations in Lausanne, Switzerland, on March 14, 2016 (AP photo)

COPENHAGEN — Top officials of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and other sporting bodies would be banned from being members of anti-doping agencies under new proposals for tackling drugs in sports.

Leaders of 17 anti-doping organisations met in Copenhagen this week to consider ways of fixing a “global anti-doping effort that has been deeply damaged” and to “ensure that the disturbing events of recent years are not repeated”.

Among the group’s aims was to remove the “fundamental conflict of interest that exists when anti-doping decisions are controlled by sports organisations” — a shot at the current ties between the World Anti-Doping Agency  (WADA) and IOC.

The president of WADA is Craig Reedie, a senior IOC member from Britain whose dual role has come under scrutiny during the scandal over state-sponsored doping in Russia. Reedie served as an IOC vice president and member of the policymaking executive board until his term expired during the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. He is now a regular IOC member

The Copenhagen summit proposed a rule that would forbid officers, directors, employees and all decision makers of anti-doping bodies from also holding a top position in any international federation or “major event organisation”.

The Institute of National Anti-Doping Organisations said the proposal would “prevent the inherent conflict of interest that exists when a sports organisation is tasked with both promoting and policing itself”.

The IOC set up WADA in 2009 and provides 50 per cent of the agency’s funding, with national governments covering the other half.

IOC President Thomas Bach has proposed making the anti-doping system independent from sports organisations and called for the creation of an independent agency to carry out global drug testing. The IOC has scheduled a meeting for October 8 to consider ways of improving the international system.

The exposure of widespread doping in Russia has led to a crisis in confidence in the entire global anti-doping fight. IOC members blamed WADA for not acting early enough to deal with evidence of Russian doping, while the IOC was accused of being soft on Russia by not banning the country entirely from the Rio Games.

The anti-doping leaders meeting in Denmark represented countries that included the United States, Australia, Canada, France, Germany and Britain.

They said WADA should be strengthened and given the independence and authority to impose sanctions for “large scale subversions of the anti-doping system”, such as the state-backed system in Russia. WADA currently has had no power to impose sanctions against a sport or a country, leaving that to the IOC and other bodies.

“WADA must have authority and capacity to investigate and to impose proportional sanctions and consequences for all instances of code non-compliance,” the officials in Copenhagen said in their final statement.

They also expressed “unequivocal support” for the completion of the investigation into Russian doping by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren. His report detailed manipulation of drug samples at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, as well as cover-ups of doping tests across dozens of summer and winter sports.

The leaders called for “increased protection and support” for whistle-blowers, including Yulia Stepanova and her husband, Vitaly, who helped expose the doping culture in their homeland.

“All relevant organisations should do everything in their power to protect and ensure safety, security and sustainable future for Yulia and Vitaly and the other whistleblowers,” the statement said.

The IOC rejected Stepanova’s bid to compete in the Rio Games after the IAAF recommended the 800-metre runner be allowed to participate as a neutral athlete.

Stepanova and her husband have been living in the United States. She said recently that she fears for her safety and has switched residences after hackers breached a WADA database that records her whereabouts.


Bach said in Rio that the IOC was “not responsible for dangers to which Mrs. Stepanova may be exposed”.

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