POSTED: February 24th 2009

WADA's work tests positive

WADA: same message in any language / lake images
WADA: same message in any language / lake images

KEIR RADNEDGE / Sports Features Communications

LAUSANNE: The ultimate success of world sport’s fight against doping rests on increasingly effective co-operation between sport, governments and the pharmaceutical industry.

That was the core message of a positive, 10th-birthday report delivered by John Fahey, president of the World Anti-Doping Agency, at a symposium at the Olympic Museum.

Fahey, setting out WADA’s evolution and achievements, insisted its ethos remained as firm as ever: “We must destroy the message that it’s OK to cheat.” He described doping as a threat  to public health because of the suggestion passed down from a minority of cheating elite athletes that winning was everything and thus cheating was acceptable.

Essential co-operation

Governments had a key role to play because they had the tools to take action in ways beyond sport itself. Fahey added: “Without this co-operation we cannot control the creation, distribution and trafficking of illegal substances.”

He urged an enhanced focus on education and research and welcomed the fact that more and more sports were implementing out-of-competition testing as demanded by the WADA code.

“Testing tactics have grown smarter,” said Fahey. “Now the focus is not only on the athlete but on an athlete’s entourage. It’s also important that more and more governments have got the message that doping is a threat to public health. I’m encouraged by the number of busts worldwide of rogue laboratories.”

Fahey acknowledged that only a minority of athletes were cheating as suggested by the fact that proven cheats accounted for just two per cent of the 200,000 samples collected per year.

To intensify the fight, Fahey called for a continuation of the strengthening of  links between governments and sport and the enlistment of co-operation with the pharmaceutical industry.

He praised the fact that athletes can be exposed up to eight years after an offence and the development of the athletes’ passport which “could represent one of the most significant weapons in the global fight in the coming years.”

Legal framework

WADA’s agreements with UNESCO and Interpol were important but it remained a matter of concern that not all countries possessed the legal framework to pursue the doping industry.

Despite that, Fahey offered an optimistic view of WADA’s mission, saying: “Are we winning the fight against doping in sport? I believe we are on the right path. And I believe that, with the commitment of all those involved in this fight, we can overcome the challenges and maintain the momentum.

“We combat doping because we believe in the universal principles of truth, fairness, health, hard work and respect. We believe it is our responsibility to preserve these values for our youth and generations to come.

“It may take time to reach the finishing line but we are much closer to that finishing line than we were last year and we will be even closer next year.”

Keywords · WADA · World Anti-Doping Agency · Fahey · Howman · Lausanne

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