Dispute overshadows drug summit

A dispute between Australia's Olympic leader and the White House's top drug adviser overshadowed the start of a series of meetings today to combat drugs in sports.

A dispute between Australia's Olympic leader and the White House's top drug adviser overshadowed the start of a series of meetings today to combat drugs in sports.

John Coates, president of the Australian Olympic Committee, was angered by US criticism of the new drug agency formed by the International Olympic Committee.

Gen. Barry McCaffrey, the chief US drug adviser, contends the World Anti-Doping Agency is too closely tied to the IOC.

Coates called McCaffrey "no friend of the Olympic movement" and tried to have him banned from Sydney's 2000 Olympics complex. But Australian government and Sydney authorities distanced themselves from Coates' comments and allowed McCaffrey's tour to proceed.

On Sunday, McCaffrey again criticized WADA but stressed the United States wants to work with the IOC to make the agency effective.

"This is not just a problem of world class weightlifting," McCaffrey said. "This is a problem of high school football and high school diving competitions and we think it is something we have to face up to."

McCaffrey said there was a "fundamental conflict on interest" in the IOC running WADA and the Olympics.

Prince Alexandre de Merode, chairman of the IOC medical committee, said from Belgium that McCaffrey was taking the wrong approach.

"Instead of insulting people, it is better to sit around the table and discuss," he said. "The reaction is hysterical and not constructive."

The IOC invited McCaffrey to Switzerland as soon as possible to meet with IOC president Juan Antonio Samranch regarding a "mutually agreed upon agenda." Samaranch is not attending the Sydney conference.

At the three-day Drugs in Sport summit, McCaffrey is promoting a six-point plan for another kind of drug agency. The principles, which have been sent to Samaranch, are:

WADA must be independent and accountable.

Athletes must be vulnerable to no-notice testing 365 days a year.

There should be no statute of limitations for drug offenses.

Samples should be preserved.

Scientific research should be advanced.

An ethic of clean competition should be promoted.

Delegates from 26 governments are discussing the role they can play in the fight against drugs in sports. Among the topics to be discussed: international collaboration, testing regimens, drug trafficking and education.

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