Drugs in sport: Olympic movement in pounds 15m clean-up vow

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The Independent Online
PROPOSALS TO establish the world's largest doping control operation, at a cost of $25m (pounds 15.25m), will be put to the International Olympic Committee this week.

"We want to create an independent doping agency with proper funding that will be able to instigate and co-ordinate testing worldwide," said the British IOC member Craig Reedie, who will present detailed plans for the scheme to an IOC executive committee meeting in Lausanne.

Reedie, the chairman of the British Olympic Association, believes it is crucial to the future of the Olympic Movement that it should play a more active part fighting doping abuse.

"Clearly the present system is imperfect," he said. "Attending to that will be part of the crusade. It is imperative that we get our message to all sports that Olympic sport is clean.

"The Olympic Movement has to put its house in order. It should then be allowed to deal with its own affairs. If not, it is probably dead in the water."

Reedie is a key member of one of four working parties who will report their findings this week as the IOC prepares to host the first World Conference on Doping in Sport on 2-4 February next year.

The initiative, which will deal with all aspects of doping including protection of athletes and legal, financial and political difficulties, comes in the wake of the controversy aroused earlier this year by the IOC president, Juan Antonio Samaranch.

According to a Spanish newspaper, Samaranch said his main concern about doping was whether it harmed competitors, rather than whether it enhanced their performance. That was widely seen as a signal of defeat; the World Conference is a statement of renewed intent.

"It is convenient to say we don't really care that much about substances that aren't dangerous," Reedie said. "But we have to care about them if they are performance-enhancing." Reedie, and working party chairman Dick Pound, an IOC vice-president, will suggest the new doping agency be funded by `top-skimming' revenue generated by Olympic TV rights - thus sharing the cost right across the Movement.

"We believe that the programme is to the benefit of many," Reedie said. "Sponsors, sports goods manufacturers, the pharmaceutical industry - all have an interest in sport being clean." The new body, Reedie says, would be likely to use existing testing agencies of recognised high standard in countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Norway and Sweden. "In other countries," he explained, "we need to encourage international federations who are not running out-of-competition testing."

Reedie is hopeful that the problem of banned competitors reducing their penalties through appeals to civil courts can be overcome if the IOC is seen to have harmonised its policies as far as possible. "We need a unified and enforceable punishment system, so that if someone is given a two-year ban, they can't reduce it on appeal to a civil court," he said.

The IOC executive committee will also receive a resolution from last month's meeting of European Olympic Committees calling for the right to establish eligibility criteria - "including unannounced out of competition controls." As BOA chairman, Reedie is determined to defend the bylaw which rules any British competitor found guilty of serious doping abuse out of any future Olympics.

Among the other measures which would improve the situation in preventing doping in sport, Reedie highlights the need for standardising punishments, and putting more emphasis on research.

Authorities failing sport, page 23

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