IOC pledges $10 million to anti-doping fight

Published November 6, 2019
Half of the funds will go toward storing samples from pre-Olympics testing for 10 years. — Reuters/File
Half of the funds will go toward storing samples from pre-Olympics testing for 10 years. — Reuters/File

KATOWICE: The incoming leader of the World Anti-Doping Agency asked for more money. The International Olympic Committee said “Yes.”

IOC president Thomas Bach pledged $10 million to fight doping in sports, half of which would go toward storing samples from pre-Olympics testing for 10 years and the other half toward investigations and research.

It was a fitting entre for Witold Banka, the incoming president of WADA who, after taking the stage following Bach’s presentation at a world anti-doping conference Tuesday, promised he would not tolerate cheating or manipulations.

“The new future of anti-doping starts today,” Banka, Poland’s Tourism and Sports Minister, said.

Then, he called upon sports leaders, governments and private companies to contribute to a cause he portrayed as massively underfunded.

“I am not the Christopher Columbus of anti-doping policy. It is not a new idea to engage big sponsors as part of their corporate social responsibility,” Banka said.

“That will be one of the biggest tasks: to convince the big companies to join the Olympic anti-doping solidarity fund,” he added.

“It is ridiculous that an organisation with the status of a global regulator has a budget of less than $40 million. An average football club has a bigger budget. We need to convince our biggest partners that if you’re a sponsor of sport, you should be a sponsor of clean sport.”

Half of WADA’s budget of about $40 million a year comes from the Olympic movement, and the IOC’s injection of another $10 million contribution is significant.

It has already reanalysed hundreds of samples from the Beijing and London Olympics that have resulted in at least 123 positive tests. Bach said it will cost about $5 million to build similar storage for pre-test samples.

“This would greatly add to the deterrence factor, in particular combined with” new testing methods that have been developed over the past few years, Bach said.

Bach also urged governments to do more to help “drain the doping swamp” by going after the entourage of a cheating athlete.

“The athlete is not the only culprit,” he said. “The athlete is supported and sometimes even driven to or forced into doping by a secretive network which may include coaches, agents, dealers, managers, officials from government or sport organisations, doctors, physiotherapists or others,” he said.

Bach cited state-doping in Russia, the Aderlass blood-doping Operation and the scandal-hit Nike Oregon Project as all highlighting the “urgent need to focus much more on the athletes’ entourage”.

Banka will formally be elected to replace Craig Reedie later this week at WADA’s board meeting.

He’ll be under the microscope, as WADA deals with a continuing case involving Russian cheating.

Russia is currently answering questions about manipulation of the data from its Moscow laboratory that is being used to prosecute dozens of doping cases. A decision on the fate of the country’s anti-doping agency is expected next month.

“We can’t keep our athletes in this situation for such a long period of time,” said Yuri Ganus, the head of Russia’s anti-doping agency. “We’ve been in this crisis for five years now, and that crisis is unfortunately becoming even worse and deeper now.”

Published in Dawn, November 6th, 2019

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