POSTED: October 9th 2016

JOHN GOODBODY: WADA needs more money if anti-doping is to work

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

(SFC) After the recent sniping between leading figures in the Olympic Movement and anti-doping officials, at least some harmony seems to have broken out in international sport. 

Not before time. 

It has been often been demeaning to the spirit, let alone the integrity, of sport that these conflicts have become so prominent this year.

The Olympic Summit in Lausanne last week-end at least settled some of the issues that have plagued sport. After all, the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) was set up by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1999 with the backing of governments across the world. 

And it was the investigation by the Wada, under the chairmanship of Dick Pound, a former IOC vice-president, which found extensive malpractice by Russians and recommended that the country be banned from the Rio Olympics. This shamefully was turned down by the IOC and instead it handed the decision over to the international federations, which with the exceptions of athletics and weightlifting, allowed Russian competitors to take part in the Games.

Senior IOC figures later blamed the Wada for not having staged their investigations earlier, while also saying that the Wada should not concern itself with any political role and instead concentrate on testing and servicing. 

Several members of the Wada executive committee were in turn worried that the IOC was trying to recover its control of the anti-doping movement -the committee being made up of representatives from governments and the IOC, with the presidency alternating between the two constituencies and the finances being split 50/50.

What was agreed at the summit was that there should be a "clear segregation of duties" between the regulatory and testing bodies, with the recommendation that sanctions should be handled by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which, in any case, often has to pass judgement because it hears so many appeals.

Dr. Thomas Bach, the IOC President,  put it succinctly in saying after the Summit:"We do not want the prosecutor being the judge".  Sir Craig Reedie, the Wada President and also an IOC Vice-President, commented:"It was encouraging to hear the sentiment expressed in today's Olympic Summit that echoes the consensus reached by the stakeholders to the effect that the Wada must be given greater authority and regulatory powers." It should therefore approve the recommendations at the meeting of its Foundation Board in Glasgow on November 20.

Dr. Bach also said there would be no change in the funding of the Wada, with the IOC contributing 50% of its current annual budget of $30 million. However, as Sir Craig has frequently pointed out, this sum is ludicrously small given its requirements, a figure sometimes exceeded in earnings by some leading individual competitors in some sports.

Even if sanctions are applied by the CAS -and it may need a boost in its funding to cope with the increasing workload--then the Wada must also get more money to carry out the investigations, which will form an increasing part of its responsibilities in future.

How this will be achieved in uncertain. The IOC matches dollar for dollar what the governments provide and Dr. Bach has dismissed the idea that there should be a set proportion of the IOC's income from television and sponsorships, going direct to the Wada, saying that this is already done indirectly.

Perhaps. However,  the IOC has the income, which is assured for several years to come, thanks to the long-term television deal with the United States, to ensure that the Wada does not continue to be cash-strapped in future. 

The IOC set up the Wada in Lausanne in 1999. It remains the guardian of the integrity of sport. Now it must act to underwrite the future demands of the Wada and to try to make certain that sport is based on ethical standards. 

** JOHN GOODBODY will cover the 2016 Olympics for The Sunday Times, his 13th 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.  

***The views expressed are the author's own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sports Features Communications.

Keywords · John Goodbody · Olympics · WADA

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