DRUGS IN SPORT: IOC's new anti-doping plans criticised

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The Independent Online
SEVEN MONTHS after holding an international conference on the escalating problem of drug abuse in sport, the International Olympic Committee is facing obstructions to its plans for a world anti-doping agency and a new anti-doping code.

The White House "drugs czar", Barry McCaffrey, said on Wednesday that the IOC's drug agency project is unacceptable, claiming it lacked "transparency, accountability and independence". It is not the first time McCaffrey and the IOC have locked horns. At the anti-drugs summit in February, IOC officials responded to McCaffrey's criticism by telling him to solve the serious doping problem in American sports before lecturing the IOC.

Dick Pound, an IOC vice-president spearheading the anti-doping project, contested McCaffrey's latest remarks. "I'm a little disappointed with his approach," Pound said. "It ignores a lot of good work that has been done leading to a consensus for the agency."

Jacques Rogge, an IOC executive board official, accused McCaffrey of ignoring the fact that the agency plans have been backed by European governments, the United Nations and the World Health Organisation.

The IOC director general, Francois Carrard, said that a Swiss foundation, run by a board of directors consisting of government and sports officials, would be set up shortly to manage the agency. The IOC has put up pounds 15m to get the agency started, promising it will be established by the end of the year.

Several issues remain to be decided, namely where the agency will be located and who will run it. Lausanne in Switzerland, where the IOC is based, is one of the sites being considered. Other cities that have expressed interest include Vienna, Madrid, Lisbon and Stockholm.

Among the agency's tasks will be to apply the IOC's controversial new "Olympic Movement Anti-Doping Code". The 95-page document sets out guidelines on drugs testing, sanctions, rules and procedures for all Olympic sports.

The code, approved by the IOC in June, is scheduled to come into effect on 1 January, but it has come under attack. The president of the Australian Olympic Committee, John Coates, has criticised the code as "unworkable". Coates, a lawyer, found numerous flaws in the document, including the definitions of doping and trafficking, and a failure to address fully the issue of out-of-competition testing.