IOC says still more work needed on targeted drug testing
Issue will be key for next WADA, IOC presidents
Olympic officials agree that more targeted, out-of-competition testing in high-profile sports is needed to catch the drug cheats who are escaping the net, IOC President Jacques Rogge said Wednesday.
Rogge told The Associated Press that sports leaders who attended a summit at IOC headquarters in Switzerland concluded that better testing — rather than more tests — is the best way forward in the anti-doping fight.
Drug-testing strategies and the role of the World Anti-Doping Agency were discussed at a meeting of Olympic leaders Tuesday in Lausanne.
While the IOC declined to release details on Tuesday, Rogge said in an interview that all sides agreed on the need for greater unannounced out-of-competition testing.
"There should be more targeted testing with athletes that might be considered as being suspicious," he said by telephone. "Top sports should be targeted more than others because of the effect of doping on their performances, and the prevalence of doping. All of that was discussed and definitely will lead to an implementation."
IOC officials have expressed concern that, despite the large number of tests carried around the world, the system is failing to catch serious doping offenders.
"Quantitatively, there was no call to do more testing because there is already 250,000 tests a year," Rogge said. "But qualitatively, [there was a call] to make better use of this testing, do more out of competition and definitely more targeting, both of the athletes and the sports."
Rogge chaired Tuesday's meeting, which was attended by the four vice-presidents of the IOC and leaders of international sports federations, national Olympic committees and other key groups.
WADA reps not present
The main topic was the role of WADA, which some sports bodies complain has gone beyond its mandate and unfairly criticized the federations. The meeting was requested by the summer sports federations in February following public spats between WADA and the International Cycling Union over the Lance Armstrong doping case.
"It was the opportunity for the members of the stakeholders — the NOCs, the IFs, the athletes commissions — to vent their ideas and their feelings," Rogge said. "We decided not to make a press release because these were informal discussions without an official point of view.
"It was a very good atmosphere. People could express their views. I definitely think it will lead to very good collaboration with WADA."
Pat McQuaid, president of cycling's governing body, and predecessor Hein Verbruggen attended. No WADA representative was invited.
WADA was set up by the IOC in 1999 to lead the global anti-doping fight. The IOC and Olympic movement provide 50 per cent of WADA's annual budget.
WADA is due to elect a new president in November, replacing former Australian government minister John Fahey. The new president will be nominated from the Olympic movement.
"We are defining the wish list of the sports movement toward the fight against doping that we are going to give to the new leadership in November," Rogge said.
Last week, former WADA president Dick Pound submitted a report to the agency detailing the ineffectiveness of the current drug-testing system.
Despite increased testing and scientific advances to detect more sophisticated substances, Pound said drug cheats are getting away scot-free because of a lack of will among sports organizations, governments and athletes.
The report cited statistics showing that, of 250,000 drug tests per year, less than 1 per cent produce positive findings for serious doping substances.