Drugs In Sport: IOC to set up dope test agency

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The Independent Online
THE INTERNATIONAL Olympic Committee has proposed setting up an anti-doping agency to co-ordinate the worldwide fight against performance- enhancing drugs. The agency would be responsible for random, out-of-competition drug testing around the world.

The proposal was the highlight of a series of measures announced at the end of a special one-day emergency meeting in Lausanne yesterday convened in the wake of a summer of drug scandals in sport.

At present, the IOC is directly responsible for drug testing only during the Olympic Games themselves, with international sports federations supervising the doping controls the rest of the time.

"This agency will make us stronger than before," the IOC medical commission chairman Prince Alexandre de Merode said. "To be united is a key success of the anti-doping fight. We all have to be unified in this battle." But De Merode stressed that the Olympic movement will never succeed in wiping out doping completely. "We will never win," he said. "We will never eliminate doping. But we will not lose."

De Merode had been embroiled in controversy after his comments in the French newspaper Le Figaro on Monday about "tendencies toward doping" in Spain. Spanish government officials accused De Merode of smearing Spanish sport with false allegations, and the Spanish national Olympic committee on Wednesday called on him to resign from his IOC post unless he retracted the comments. But De Merode remained defiant.

"There is a tendency toward doping also in the United States, Britain and the whole world," he said. "It applies to everybody. Do you know a country where there isn't a tendency toward doping? It doesn't exist. It's a reality in all the world."

He said he singled out Spain only because the IOC president, Juan Antonio Samaranch, is Spanish and because the IOC president had given his interview in Barcelona.

The Belgian official expressed astonishment at recent remarks by Samaranch, who called for a drastic reduction in the list of banned substances and suggested only drugs which are harmful to athletes should be prohibited.

"One must not forget that Spanish sports, for a long time, have had tendencies towards doping," De Merode told the paper.

He shrugged off the calls for his resignation. "So they can ask," he said. "It doesn't move me at all."