Doping showdown comes to a crunch at Wada summit

LAUSANNE

Sports leaders are at loggerheads over how to fight the war against performance-enhancing drugs as the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) goes into a key reform summit this weekend.

Who should control the global doping watchdog? What powers should it have? Who should pay? A welter of questions have been raised as the Olympic movement and sports federations seek to redeem their names after the Russia doping scandal.

The Wada Foundation will have to come up with at least the start of some solid answers after its meeting in Glasgow on Sunday. A new report on Russia is due out within weeks which could heighten pressure to clean up sport.

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach last month called on Wada to set up a new independent unit to manage testing around the world. He promised more money if the reforms are carried out.

The IOC blames sports federations for letting cheating flourish and wants to eliminate their role in testing, while transfering sanction-taking to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The IOC has also criticised WADA for failing to act quickly on doping allegations in Russia, which was accused of operating a ‘state-sponsored’ scheme over several years.

But there is widespread resistance to the IOC plan outside of Wada, with powerful federations indicating they want to be exempt from the reforms.

A SYSTEM FOR ALL?

The head of Fifa’s medical commission, Michel D’Hooghe, said world football’s governing body would not surrender control of its drug testing to a new entity.

“We respect the Wada and IOC proposals but they concern the smaller federations,” he said.

The head of another federation, who requested anonymity, said his sport would never outsource anti-doping efforts and described the IOC call for a new testing unit as “more political than practical.”

In contrast, Tom Dielen who heads World Archery said there would only be a small impact on smaller sports.

“We outsource our controls already,” he said.

While some federations have said the IOC proposals are too vague, Wada director general Olivier Niggli, “it will be up to the IOC to convince federations to be part of (the new system), just as it will be up to the IOC to finance it one way or another.”

Despite tensions between Wada and the IOC, an Olympic source told AFP that the IOC was backing Wadapresident Craig Reedie’s re-election, guaranteeing that the 75-year-old Scot will be tapped for another three-year term at Sunday’s meeting.

PAYING THE BILLS

The IOC already funds half of Wada’s $27 million (25.2 million euros) budget.

Bach said last month that if Wada leads the reform drive it would require “a substantial increase in financing.”

Financing from whom remains an open question.

One idea calls for federations, freed from their drug-testing responsibilities, to allocate their anti-doping budgets to Wada and the proposed new testing agency.

But if key federations like Fifa and the International Cycling Union opt out, it seems unlikely that contributions from minnow federations like archery and judo would be enough to support a new organisation.

One proposal was to see broadcasters contribute to the new unit, as they stand to benefit if the public sees competition as drug free. Bach distanced himself from that idea last month.

RUSSIAN FACTOR

The banning of more than 110 Russian competitors from the Rio de Janeiro Olympics and complete ban from the Paralympics sparked outrage in Moscow and accusations of double standards.

Russian Olympic Committee president Alexander Zhukov, made clear what he thinks of Wada in a letter issued ahead of the Glasgow meeting.

“A lot of decisions are made behind closed doors and (Wada) becomes an instrument for manipulation, including those of a political nature,” he said.
But he did not rule out backing reforms that would see a Wada with more powers, removing international federations from the testing system.

Uhuru reaches out to African leaders to support Amina’s bid for AU chair post

Six face panel in bid to replace Kinisu at EACC