Wada boss plays down fears on anti-doping body's future

Craig Reedie.
Craig Reedie.

LONDON • World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) president Craig Reedie believes there is a "feeling of goodwill" between his organisation and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), despite the disputes between the two sides caused by the Russian doping crisis.

At a Wada think-tank on Tuesday, there were concerns that the IOC wants to sideline or even replace Wada as punishment for calling for a blanket ban on Russian athletes at the Rio Olympics.

But Reedie claimed those fears are unfounded after senior IOC representatives have also said that Wada still has a vital role to play in protecting clean athletes.

"The meeting was at times tense and even provocative but we had a thorough debate on the issues we all face," said Reedie.

"It was encouraging to hear from IOC representatives during the meeting that the Olympic movement has no intention to dilute Wada but rather a willingness to reinforce its independence and regulatory powers.

"And by the end there was a real feeling of goodwill. I think that with a bit of luck the worst is behind us."

WEATHERING THE STORM

The meeting was at times tense and even provocative but we had a thorough debate on the issues we all face. It was encouraging to hear from IOC representatives that the Olympic movement has no intention to dilute Wada.

CRAIG REEDIE, Wada president, on his organisation's vital role.

The meeting involved around 40 experts from anti-doping bodies as well as government and sport.

The agenda included discussions on how Wada's governance can be better improved, how to monitor testing laboratories in a more effective manner, and also whether more sanctions are required.

The IOC provides half of Wada's £23 million (S$40.4 million) budget and Reedie said that "everybody acknowledged that £23 million was not enough" and added that "there was support for his idea that broadcasters and sponsors should contribute".

The 75-year-old, however, said that there were no conclusions on whether more money would be provided to Wada.

It is also understood that those at the meeting unanimously supported Reedie's leadership of Wada, although there were some worries about whether he is really up to the job during this trying period.

IOC president Thomas Bach, in a surprise broadside before the Olympics started in Brazil, said that widespread Russian doping had shown up deficiencies in Wada - calling for "a more robust and efficient" anti-doping system.

With an Olympic anti-doping summit scheduled for Oct 8 in Lausanne, Bach asked for suggestions from IOC members and international sports federations.

The Montreal-based anti-doping organisation has been under cyber attack from Russian hackers who have released the confidential medical files of more than 60 international athletes online.

Wada was established in 1999, because of doping at the 1998 Tour de France, as an IOC initiative to "promote, coordinate and monitor the fight against drugs in sport".

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 24, 2016, with the headline 'Wada boss plays down fears on anti-doping body's future'. Print Edition | Subscribe