IOC to hold conference on World Anti-Doping Agency's role
The gold, silver and bronze Olympic medals of the 2004 Athens Olympics are shown in this 2004 file photo. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Stephen Wilson, The Associated Press
Published Friday, February 15, 2013 3:44PM EST
LONDON -- The IOC has decided to hold a conference on the role of the World Anti-Doping Agency amid increasing tensions over how the fight against performance-enhancing drugs is being run.
IOC director general Christophe De Kepper told The Associated Press that the meeting will be held in Lausanne, Switzerland, in late April or early May with international sports federations, national Olympic committees and athletes.
The decision was made by the IOC executive board this week in Lausanne, but was not publicly announced. The board acted after a formal request was made to IOC President Jacques Rogge by Francesco Ricci Bitti, head of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations, which represents the 26 sports in the games.
"Relations with WADA have deteriorated significantly and the lack of help and support from WADA against a background of constant media criticism of its sports 'partners' and the consequent breakdown of trust need to be addressed as a priority," Ricci Bitti, an Italian who is president of the International Tennis Federation, said in a letter to Rogge.
The move comes amid strained relations between the International Olympic Committee and WADA, an organization which it created in 1999 to lead the global anti-doping fight. The IOC and Olympic movement provide 50 per cent of WADA's annual budget.
The Lance Armstrong scandal has triggered a nasty public feud between WADA and the UCI, cycling's governing body and a member of ASOIF. WADA has also singled out football and tennis for not doing enough testing.
"Things have deteriorated into a war of words," ASOIF director Andrew Ryan told the AP on Friday. "Things have reached a low point. There is a real fear that if it goes any further, then the level of co-operation will go even lower. Let's take this opportunity and have a real look at it."
De Kepper said the conference will also address the issues of illegal betting, autonomy of sports bodies and the sports calendar.
Also to be discussed is the future leadership of WADA and the successor to current President John Fahey, whose six-year term expires at the end of 2013.
The WADA presidency alternates between the Olympic movement and governments. Fahey, a former Australian finance minister, succeeded IOC member Dick Pound as WADA president in 2007 as the representative of governments.
The IOC is scheduled to nominate the next WADA president at the fourth World Conference of Doping in Sport in Johannesburg, South Africa, in November.
IOC and sports federation officials have expressed irritation with recent public statements by Fahey. They have also said that nearly US$500 million a year is spent each year on doping controls with few athletes being caught in the tests.
WADA's current annual budget is $26 million, with $13 million provided by the Olympic movement and the other half by governments.
"Trust has broken down," Ryan said. "The body that can lead us to a better place with this is the IOC. They can look at how we move the fight against doping into a more co-operative spirit instead of the current situation of criticizing everyone. We have various sports federations and stakeholders which are constantly sniping at WADA and vice versa."
Last year, WADA leaders criticized the IOC for not retesting more of the 3,000-plus samples from the 2004 Athens Olympics. The IOC re-analyzed about 100 of the samples last year, catching five athletes in the retroactive tests and stripping them of medals.
Rogge said this week the IOC would not intervene in the dispute between WADA and the UCI on how to deal with doping after the full extent of cheating by Armstrong and his teams was revealed by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.
Rogge backed UCI President Pat McQuaid, an IOC member who has been under fire for the sport's handling of the doping crisis.
"We have confidence in Mr. McQuaid as president of the UCI," Rogge said.
Rogge called on the UCI and WADA to reconcile "and find a solution together."