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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 January 2008, 15:43 GMT
Drugs chief reveals his manifesto
By Matt Slater and Simon Austin

John Fahey and Marion Jones
Fahey: Not only concerned with "the Marion Joneses of this world"

John Fahey is three weeks into what has been described by some as the most important job in world sport.

As the new president of Wada, Fahey is responsible for co-ordinating the fight against drugs in sport.

In his first major interview since succeeding Dick Pound, Fahey told BBC Sport about the challenges facing him in his new job and of his hopes for the future.


Question: What are the big challenges for Wada in 2008?

Answer: The main challenge is capitalising on the significant partnership that is developing between government and sport.

A decade ago governments had little interest in drugs in sport, they left it to sporting bodies.

Now they are very much out there because they recognise that it is a public health problem. It's not just a question of the Marion Joneses of this world, it's the public in general, it's the kids in the gym, or in local sports competitions, that are very much affected by what is an insidious disease.

Therefore, governments' commitment is greater than it has ever been and continues to grow. So that's certainly a challenge for me and for Wada - to join governments and sport even more effectively.

And, finally, we've got to have our scientists ahead of their scientists. The ones that cheat have to get the drugs from somewhere. If they do, they'll be detected.

How disappointed are you about what's been happening in US baseball?

(Major League Baseball has suggested it will keep drug testing in-house, despite Senator George Mitchell's recommendation that it should be managed by an independent third party).

I think it's fair to say that I'm extremely disappointed. Major League Baseball is an enormous organisation, as a sport and a business, but it's extremely hard to understand why independent testing can't be endorsed and in fact applauded by baseball.

To me, that was at the top of the recommendations from Senator Mitchell and yet they seem to think they can do that by having their own person who can be effectively dictated to by either the teams or the players' union.

Barry Bonds
Barry Bonds: Charged with perjury and obstruction of justice
That isn't independent, so that's the disappointing side of it.

What I'd like Major League Baseball to do is to look at the Mitchell recommendations and give us the reasons publically why they won't adopt every one of them.

I think they are starting to slowly recognise that they've got to do something, but it should be quicker.

We in Wada are more than willing to work with them on any one of those recommendations, or any other process they might wish to implement, so that it becomes code compliant from our point of view.

That's what the world has accepted, so why shouldn't baseball?

How confident are you that the Chinese authorities can deliver a clean Olympics?

They have done an enormous amount of work, putting in resources in terms of highly-trained personnel and money.

Will the athletes that come to the Games be clean? I can't say that. But I would ask all countries to send honest and clean athletes.

The onus isn't on Wada, it isn't even on the Chinese authorities, it's on each of the countries that send athletes to the Games to go through a rigorous process of ensuring that only the clean athletes get there, rather than those that seek to cheat.

Lastly, the tests will be more significant than at any other Olympics. So the chances of getting caught, for those that want to cheat, are greater than ever before.

But do all those tests work? Have we got a robust test for human growth hormone?

Testing isn't the only thing, though obviously testing ultimately leads to many of the cheats being detected and dealt with in the appropriate way.

There will be a continuation of that, and there must be.

But it is just as important to ensure that the investigations are smarter than ever before and that through proper investigations your testing is focused on where it can do the most good.

We're a lot further with HGH than many commentators have said
And that requires a great deal of co-operation with law enforcement agencies in many countries. Some have come a long way, some haven't made much of a move at all.

Where there is that sharing of information, it leads to focused testing. That leads to the results we want to see and to the cheats being identified and dealt with.

In regard to HGH, it has reached the stage where we can have confidence in the testing.

There has been a lot of comment about having a kit that is practical and accessible, and that requires those kits being manufactured.

There have been a few stumbling blocks there - which I needn't detail - but the tests have been validated. And samples have been stored in the past that can be used in the future.

I think we're a lot further with HGH than many of the commentators have said. We're very confident that by the time of the Olympics in Beijing in August that these kits will be readily available and in a form that nobody can argue can be utilised to achieve outcomes.

Is this the right test? Are there other ways? We won't ignore any proposal that can be validated.

Is this a blood test or a urine test?

A blood test.

On the issue of co-operation with governments, has the UK gone as far as it should?

I'm not going to get into that. It's not up to Wada to say which country has done more than others.

It's simply a fact, though, that in Australia there is legislation that provides that there can be a sharing of information between the Australian federal police and our anti-doping authority, Asada.

Customs can also share information. All of that has to be done within an appropriate protocol to protect privacy but it has certainly led to some considerable results being achieved.

Now not every country can do that and I don't specifically set up Australia as the role model. But the more that we can get governments to recognise that this is a societal problem (the better).

We have appealed the (Operation) Puerto decision and we will continue to take that one, and any other, to the nth degree
It's not about elite athletes, it's about ensuring that all of the community, particularly young people, are protected by virtue of the educational programmes that are implemented.

And the onus there is on government more than anybody else to ensure that the educational programmes are focused on the ill effects of drug taking, and in our case performance-enhancing drugs.

I acknowledge, though, that many governments have come an extraordinary distance in the past six or seven years since Wada and governments joined together in this fight.

Would you like governments to criminalise doping?

That's a matter for governments.

But governments, wherever they are in the world, usually reflect the community standards of that particular nation.

And I believe that there is a real call from the community to stamp out those things that are harmful.

So if the laws relating to trafficking and smuggling aren't strong enough, Wada would certainly applaud any tightening up in any country.

Have we heard the end of the Balco and Puerto affairs?

No. With Puerto, we have appealed the decision (by the Spanish authorities to close the case).

We are interested in any information - and there are lots of rumours floating around - in respect of Puerto.

But at this point we have appealed and we won't be letting up in the context of taking that as far as we can.

So you would like to know the non-cycling names?

Well, they're rumours. There's lots of talk around about non-cycling names but we're not aware of them.

If any information comes our way then obviously we won't ignore it. But we'll have to do it in a fair way and not just chase rabbits down burrows every time somebody suggests there's a burrow there.

There may not be a rabbit there at all. But if there's any information that warrants investigation we would obviously expect the investigation to occur, within the country, and we would give it all our support and encouragement.

And we would pass on any information that came our way that seemed to be of some substance.

But we also have to be careful with the rumours that we frequently read in various sporting magazines without much substance behind them.

Justin Gatlin
Gatlin hopes to be cleared in time for the Beijing Olympics
Now I'm not suggesting that the stories floating around in relation to Puerto are of no substance, but to date what has come to Wada's attention hasn't reached much fruition in the context of substance.

On the other hand, we have appealed the Puerto decision and we will continue to take that one, and any other, to the nth degree.

There will be no letting up, I just want to assure you of that.

Do you understand why cycling has come to feel a bit persecuted?

I can understand that. But the onus to ensure that their sport is clean rests with their international federations and national bodies.

Our role is to be the peak body to carry the fight, to root out the cheats and deal with them. But we can't do that alone.

In terms of getting any sport to a standard that gives confidence to those who participate and the fans that follow that sport, it rests with the officials and organisations that run that sport. They're in the front line.

Justin Gatlin is taking his case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport after being handed a four-year ban for failing a drugs test in 2006. Should we expect any more fallout from Balco?

The US anti-doping authority, Usada, is the one carrying that particular fight. What prosecutions are coming, I don't know. But I don't think we've seen the end of the Mitchell report.

We would ask the sport again to come clean and do something about that. But I'm not going to pre-empt what matters are likely to be taken forward.

That has to be taken through a proper process. One has to always respect the rights of the athletes in these matters as well.

But there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that wherever there is action to be taken, Wada will take it to the nth degree in order to ensure that the code is complied with and the cheats are dealt with.



SEE ALSO
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New anti-doping president elected
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Sotherton voices Beijing concerns
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New warning over Olympic doping
15 Nov 07 |  Sport Homepage


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