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Wada stands defiant in doping row


Wada urges athletes to give its testing policy a chance

The World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) has told the BBC there will be no changes to the new drug-testing programme and has fired a broadside at its critics.

The likes of Andy Murray and Rafa Nadal have accused the "whereabouts" rules of being an intrusion of privacy.

But Wada director general David Howman says they need time to bed in.

"Just give this a chance," said the Kiwi. "Don't just go out there and be totally critical and damn it. That's not a sensible, pro-active response."

Howman, in London for talks with around nine national and international players' associations, also suggested many critics of "whereabouts" were ignorant of what exactly was involved.

"Learn a little more before you open your mouth," he told them, adding: "It's very important to know what you are talking about before you criticise it."

The new testing programme, which has been in use since 1 January, has already provoked a storm of protest from some of the world's leading sporting figures.

Under the rules, any athlete on the national testing register - largely any elite athlete in an Olympic or major team sport - must make themselves available to testers for one hour a day, between 6am and 11pm three months in advance.

Let's just get this system through the introductory wrinkles and see how it settles

Wada boss David Howman
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However, if an athlete is not where they said they would be when the testers call, they are given a strike.

Three strikes in an 18-month period and an athlete is handed an automatic ban from competition, as Olympic 400m champion Christine Ohuruogu discovered.

Murray, the world number four tennis player and the British number one, has described the new rules as "so draconian that it makes it almost impossible to live a normal life".

Now Wimbledon champion Venus Williams has joined the growing list of critics, arguing the new regulations are too much of a demand on players.

Ohuruogu backs universal drug testing

"If your match goes to one o'clock at night you don't know what's going to happen if you are focusing on recovery for the next day," said the American.

"You are not focusing on where you are going to be. You are trying to do what you have to do - even at home. First thing you do is wake up and go to play.

"There are some things in the system which need to be looked at. We want a system which works and then it's fair."

But Howman insisted the "whereabouts" scheme needed time to bed in and urged athletes to give themselves time to adapt.

venus Williams in action at the Dubai Tennis Championships
Williams says athletes are focusing on playing not complying to doping rules
"We've been in operation under this new system for six weeks," he said.

"There will be some ripples and there will be some issues you need to change your habits on."

Howman added that there would be opportunities to modify the testing programme at some future point but it was too early to start making changes now.

"Let's try to work together," he said. "Let's just get this system through the introductory wrinkles and see how it settles.

"There are other possibilities. As we go forward we will consider them. But whatever we put into place has to work worldwide.

"We're not just talking about the developed nations or those nations that have been to the forefront of the anti-doping programmes.

"We are talking about the Mozambiques, the Chiles, the Samoas, the parts of the world when anti-doping has not been quite as prevalent. Everything we do must be worldwide in its operation."

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see also
Wada hits back in doping rule row
06 Feb 09 |  Olympics
Anger grows over anti-doping code
04 Feb 09 |  Sport Homepage
Legal threat to anti-doping code
22 Jan 09 |  Sport Homepage

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