Progress being made in doping battle: WADA chief

Doping (File)
Doping (File)

London - Progress is being made in the war on doping with educational programmes among the measures targeting the prevention of cases such as the 'institutionalised doping' in Russia, World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) chief Craig Reedie told AFP.

The 75-year-old Scot -- who has been in his post since January 2014 -- added improved science in detecting doping offences quicker than had been anticipated had also had an impact.

Russia has been in the eye of the storm after a report by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren for WADA said the Russian sports ministry organised widespread doping following the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.

"I have always been a half glass full man rather than a glass half empty one so yes, we are making progress," Reedie told AFP on the sidelines of the SportPro conference in London.

"The science is better, you can tell, as the statute of limitations was extended from eight to 10 years with the base assumption that at the end of 10 years there would be new technology.

"But as it turns out samples from the London Games are beng tested now so it shows the science is better and faster.

"There is also a significant educational programme across the whole of the anti-doping community.

"When you look at the Russian situation and the huge problems it has given both to sport and to the government others will take note that it is best it should not reoccur."

Reedie, who came in for some rough treatment from his fellow International Olympic Committee (IOC) members in Rio de Janeiro last year for the McLaren report putting them on the spot in deciding which Russians could compete at the Games, said he had welcomed Russian President Vladimir Putin's admission last month that his country had a problem with doping without admitting it was authorised by the state.

"We work literally every day to try to renew compliance of RUSADA and then we have to reaccredit the laboratory so there is quite a lot of work to be done," said Reedie.

"I am encouraged by the statement of the president of the Russian Federation which says we have a problem and we need to solve it.

"At the moment I hope now I am in the solving-of-problems business.

"The terminology now matters less than actually getting it done."

Reedie, though, takes issue with the phrase state-sponsored doping.

"It is interesting as I don't think anybody in WADA used the phrase 'state sponsored doping'.

"I'm not blaming the media, it was a phrase that they picked up but the second McLaren report said it was an institutionalised conspiracy and that clearly happened."

Reedie, who says WADA's whistleblower programme is up and running -- and he has been informed there are several presently in contact with the agency, is adamant he does not wish to see athletes end up with criminal records although it should be a different matter for those who supply the products.

"We extended the 2015 WADA code to be much more specific on how we treated the athlete's entourage," said Reedie.

"Our experience is that relatively few athletes dope on their own. There are usually 'quote, unquote' people helping them.

"As far as criminalisation I think there are 52 countries who have legislation and we stongly encourage them to take measures on the trafficking of the products.

"What we don't want is athletes being criminalised. I think there have been two cases globally, both in Italy, and they received suspended sentences.

"We prefer sanctions for athletes being done through the sports system.

"The reason for that is because there is a harmonised code all over the world.

"It has to be proportionate and the advice we have been given is that four years is proportionate for a serious doping offence.

"If you allow the courts to decide you would have different standards of proof globally if the offence was in Australia or in France and the system is likely to break down."

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