Governments begin discussing anti-doping initiatives at summit

A senior International Olympic Committee official defended the organization and its role in the new World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) against US charges that the agency cannot function properly because it is not totally independent of the IOC.

A senior International Olympic Committee official defended the organization and its role in the new World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) against US charges that the agency cannot function properly because it is not totally independent of the IOC.

"The United States probably feels concerned that at the completion of the work done in Europe, the move to WADA went at a pace that they weren't comfortable with and they felt possibly that they hadn't been invited into it," IOC vice president Kevan Gosper told delegates at an international anti-doping summit.

He was responding to criticism from White House drug czar General Barry McCaffrey that the new agency had too many links with the IOC. The body's first chairman is IOC vice president Dick Pound and is provisionally based in Lausanne, home of the international Olympic movement.

"Contrary to some public criticism, its structure ensures that it is truly independent General McCaffrey, truly independent of any particular sport or organization," Gosper assured delegates from 26 nations.

Earlier McCaffrey had repeated his criticism of the new body.

"It looks to us as though it (the WADA) will be dominated by the IOC. That, to us, is unacceptable," McCaffrey said on the opening day of the summit.

Gosper told Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio McCaffrey was basing his attacks on outdated information.

"I think that the United States has not really kept fully in touch with developments that have taken place," Gosper said.

The WADA, formally created last Wednesday by the IOC, will have representatives from sports bodies, including the IOC, on its board as well as government officials.

The IOC will have four seats on the agency's board, which can have up to 35 members.

Anti-doping experts from around the world began a series of meetings on how governments can cooperate to help in the fight against performance-enhancing drugs in sport.

Australian organizers wants delegates to commit to agreed standards in doping control and improve international cooperation and collaboration through bilateral and multilateral anti-doping agreements.

So far it has been overshadowed by McCaffrey's run-ins with Australian Olympic officials. As well as his clash with Gosper, McCaffrey also locked horns with Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates.

Coates unsuccessfully tried to have McCaffrey banned from touring Sydney's 2000 Olympics complex on Sunday and staging a press conference there to voice his criticism of the WADA.

At the summit, McCaffrey is seeking support for a package of six principles the United States believes must underpin a global anti-doping policy.

McCaffrey wants:

The WADA to be fully independent.

Athletes to be subject to year-round no-notice testire developed.

More advanced scientific research.

The promotion of an ethic of clean competition.

Opening the conference, Australian Sports Minister Jackie Kelly pledged 1.5 million dollars (996,000 US dollars ) to fund research in conjunction with the IOC to ensure a test for the performance-enhancing drug erythropoietin, or EPO, is reliable and robust by next year.

"This summit marks the beginning of a new era in cooperation between governments and international sporting federations to crack down on 'tracksuit fraud' in order to protect the body and spirit of international sport," Kelly said.

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