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Thursday, 13 January, 2000, 12:58 GMT
New body tackles drugs in sport

Juan Antonio Samaranch and Barry McCaffrey Working together: Samaranch (left) and McCaffrey discuss the new body

By Claire Doole in Geneva

The first meeting of the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) is under way in the Swiss town of Lausanne.

Representatives of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and national governments aim to put in place a framework for combatting drugs in sport ahead of this September's Sydney Olympics.

Wada, established last November, is the first worldwide agency to try to combat drugs in sport. It was set up last year following a series of high profile doping scandals, notably in cycling, swimming and football.

"The success of Wada is essential to the continued involvement of the world community in the Olympic movement," US drugs czar Barry McCaffrey told reporters after addressing the opening session.

Sydney testing

Wada is to establish a list of banned substances, coordinate unannounced out-of-competition drug testing, develop standards for collecting and analysing samples, set unified drug sanctions and promote research.

One of the most pressing tasks will be to decide whether to take over responsibility from the IOC for drug testing at the Sydney Games.

IOC chief Juan Antonio Samaranch declined to comment on whether Wada should handle the drug testing at the Sydney Games.

Relations between governments and the IOC have been strained by recent corruption and bribery scandals.

Both sides say they are now keen to work together to preserve sporting ideals and put an end to the perception that to win you have to take drugs.

Push for independence

But Mr McCaffrey, an outspoken critic of the IOC, is pushing hard for the agency to be fully independent.

He is demanding that it be moved from the IOC headquarters in Lausanne and that it be headed by a non-IOC member.

Wada is currently led by Dick Pound, who is also vice-president of the IOC.

Spain, Portugal, Austria and Sweden are among countries reportedly interested in hosting Wada.

"We're on a very short run to the Sydney Olympics," Mr McCaffrey said.

"I would hope that at each step we will have, in a transparent manner, concrete results."

The IOC has contributed $25m to start the agency but expects governments and others to pay their share.

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See also:
08 Sep 99 |  Asia-Pacific
Olympic doping code condemned
26 Jan 99 |  Medical notes
Doping: Banned substances
06 Jan 00 |  Sport
New tests for Chinese swimmers

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