Athletics: Independent anti-doping body to be in place by London 2012

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The Independent Online

A new independent anti-doping agency is to be set up in Britain that will finally quell the long-standing aggravation endured by UK Athletics over its dual role in testing and funding elite athletes something which many have felt risks a conflict of interests.

The agency is due to be in place well before the 2012 Olympics, and will enjoy greater powers than those currently enjoyed by UK Sport, which is limited to dealing with positive or missed tests. There will be an additional capacity to tackle the supply and trafficking of banned drugs, with the new body being used as a single point of contact for law enforcement agencies. In line with the updated code that will be implemented by the World Anti Doping Agency from 1 January, 2009, there will be greater penalties for those found guilty of supplying drugs.

The new national organisation would also have the authority to present drugs cases to a disciplinary panel, rather than leave arrangements to be made by different national governing bodies, as is currently the case. This would also remove the risk of national bodies being sued by competitors contesting their bans, as Diane Modahl did with the British Athletics Federation following her initial suspension in 1994.

The perceived risk of one body carrying out both testing and funding is that there may be a temptation for those in charge of funding to suggest easing testing on athletes who have been expensively backed.

"The real driver for this has been the governing bodies themselves," a UK Sport spokesman said. "They have been calling for an independent body for years because many of them do not have the resources and expertise required to operate doping measures."

UK Sport's annual budget for anti-doping is around 4million; the new agency will need considerably more.

* Nicola Sanders, second to Christine Ohuruogu in the world 400m final and winner of the European indoor title, has been voted by UK Athletics as the British Olympic Association Athlete of the Year.