POSTED: November 25th 2015

JOHN GOODBODY: WADA must expand its duties - but it needs money

THE JOHN GOODBODY COLUMN / An authoritative and exclusive series from Sports Features Communications

(SFC) One has learnt many things from the crisis which has engulfed athletics. But probably the most important is that the way forward for all international sport is to hand over the responsibility for the collection of urine and blood samples to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

 From its foundation in 1999 in Lausanne, the WADA has been the organisation that regulates drug-testing, accredits laboratories, subsidises scientific research and draws up the list of banned substances. The detailed report, which its founding President, Dick Pound, recently led into athletics was a rare but welcome investigation, which one could hope will be followed by others.

It has become increasingly unsatisfactory that the international federations should be conducting their own collection of samples and then adjudicating any irregularities. Given that no governing body of any sport wants to have a positive test because it would be a stain on a reputation of that sport, there is a clear conflict of interests here. And it is time that the practice ended.

The International Cycling Union (UCI), which has set up an independent drugs unit under its new President Brian Cookson, and the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), which is now intending to do the same, have been prime movers here. But their actions do not go far enough.  

In individual countries, the responsibilities for overseeing the regimes are taken on by the national anti-doping organisations (NADO). They should continue to have this duty and it should be extended to handing out the punishments for any misdemeanours. At the moment, they are administered by the governing body of the relevant sport.

 However, internationally the global or continental governing body usually has the responsibility, except during the Olympic Games, when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) assumes control. This is where the WADA can step in.

Fortunately, Dr. Thomas Bach made clear recently in his address to the General Assembly of the European Olympic Committees that as IOC President, he was eager to lead the way towards making the WADA take on more responsibility.

He said there were three proposals. The first is that a "testing and results" management organisation within the WADA should be established independent from the monitoring and regulatory functions of the WADA.

He said: "Sport organisations would transfer their anti-doping systems to this organisation and make the funding available initially at the level of their present investment in the fight against doping. This organisation should also coordinate the work of the National Anti-Doping Agencies to ensure a streamlined, efficient and worldwide harmonised anti-doping system."

Dr Bach would also want the WADA to set up a professional intelligence gathering unit should be established, which would allow the WADA to be pro-active.

And finally, he would want sanctions to be imposed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). "In such a way, the system of sanctions would be centralised, be cost efficient and lead to harmonisation among all sports and among all countries. The current right to appeal such sanctions to a different chamber of the CAS would be fully upheld and guaranteed."

In principle, this is an excellent way of moving forward but what is needed is much more funding of the WADA. Governments, particularly those from the wealthier countries, must contribute their fair share of 50 percent (several have been reluctant to do so in the past) and sport must also play its part, as well as the IOC. One suggestion that has often been made is for a set percentage of TV deals to go towards the fight against doping.

The greater involvement of the WADA is essential. It now needs to happen.

** JOHN GOODBODY covered the 2012 Olympics for The Sunday Times, his 12th successive Summer Games and is the author of the audio book A History of the Olympics, read by Barry Davies, the BBC commentator. He was Sports News Correspondent of The Times 1986-2007, for whom he received journalistic awards in all three decades on the paper, including Sports Reporter of The Year in 2001.  

Keywords · Olympics · WADA · John Goodbody

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