Directly carrying out drug-testing would be a “natural extension” of the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) remit, founding President Richard Pound believes, although he claims an independent body such as that proposed at last month’s Olympic Summit would require a substantial funding increase.
The new body was proposed at the Summit in Lausanne on October 17, where International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach and current WADA chief Sir Craig Reedie met leading stakeholders from International Federations and National Olympic Committees.
It would take responsibility away from organising committees and IFs, it is hoped, with a primary aim of avoiding any conflict of interest by taking responsibility away from those with any perceived vested interest against catching cheats.
No firm decisions are expected soon, but Sir Craig is now chairing a Working Group in which the idea is being explored further.
As a bare minimum, the body would oversee drug testing programmes in conjunction with existing bodies, but it is hoped it could also eventually facilitate a testing system itself.
“I think it’s well short of a plan, but more a suggestion which has been dropped into WADA’s mailbox, to say, think about it,” Pound told insidethegames here today after participating in a discussion entitled: “Bringing Accountability Back to Sport: The Role of Government and Governing Bodies” during the Securing Sport conference.
“Certainly they’ve recognised the conflictual problem between promoting a sport and enforcing its rules.
“I don’t know if they worked out how much it will cost and where the funds are going to come from, because there’s quite a lot of money in the system already doing drug testing and investigations.
“That said, we’ll have a look at it, and see if there’s additional questions or suggestions we can make.
“It’s certainly too much for us to do on the basis of the budget we now have, so it may be one of these things where we actually have to punt, and say, ‘if we’re going to do a good job, this is how much it’s going to cost.'”
Pound, the veteran Canadian lawyer and two-time former International Olympic Committee (IOC) vice-president, led WADA from its formation in 1999 until 2007, and remains an IOC member today.
He did not speculate on what he believes the likely cost for the new body would be, but, with the idea a radical increase on its current activities, it can be presumed the required changes would not be cheap.
WADA is funded by the IOC and International Governments, with both contributing 50 per cent.
According to its 2015 Budget, over 130 countries have donated varying amounts, totaling almost $14 million (£9 million/€12.8 million), with this sum matched by the IOC.
Since its founding, its role has been to accredit laboratories which are then used for testing, and provide guidelines through the World Anti-Doping Code
It does not physically carry out testing itself, however, although Pound believes this would in theory be feasible.
“It’s a natural extension of the monitoring mandate WADA already has,” he said.
“We’ve briefly been hijacked by the IFs who claim we are just a servicing organisation.”
He explained how WADA’s aim is to make all bodies compliant with its Code, although after nearly 13 years since the first Code was introduced in 2003, “anyone who is not code compliant at this point is not trying very hard”.
He added: “So maybe we should move from the carrot to the stick.
“What we’ve found on the basis of human nature and experience, is that it’s very difficult for a sport to promote itself and police itself.
“So maybe the answer is, in one form or another, to have an independent body doing it all.”
By Nick Butler, this article was republished with permission from the original publisher Inside the Games www.insidethegames.biz