KATOWICE: Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, has urged all of sport’s stakeholders to “join hands to send a strong signal of determination, of cooperation and credibility to the athletes of the world and the general public” in in the fight against doping.
This follows concern over the veracity of information elicited by the World Anti-Doping Agency from the scandal-enshrouded Moscow testing laboratory and its decision to review all the athlete clients of top coach Alberto Salazar, the now-banned mastermind of the collapsed Nike Oregon Project.
Bach had once hoped – in vain, as it has turned out – that the doping scandal spectre would have been largely banished as the Olympics headed towards next year’s Tokyo Games.
In addressing the 1,500 delegates attending WADA’s Fifth World Conference on Doping in Sport in Katowice, Poland, Bach announced an IOC commitment of $10m to support a four-point action plan aimed at strengthening the fight against doping. This would help finance a long-term storage and re-analysis programme extended to samples collected during the pre-Games testing period.
Bach said: “To make this step possible, the IOC is ready to finance the necessary storage facilities for the international federations and national anti-doping organisations for the tens of thousands of samples collected during the pre-Games testing period.
“Based on our experience with the storage, this represents a commitment by the IOC of about $5m.”
Bach said he has asked the comparatively new International Testing Agency to take advantage of the most extensive pre-Games testing programme aimed at “maximising both detection and deterrence.”
The ITA should “collect the appropriate samples to be analysed by the new genetic sequencing method as early as the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, regardless of whether this testing method is already fully validated or not.”
In the latter case, the IOC would analyse these samples after full validation of this new testing method.
Bach added: “The challenges of doping have unfortunately become more complex. The Olympic and sports movement and the government authorities should discuss how to strengthen the WADA Intelligence and Investigative Unit.
“We invite the governments to a discussion on how we can do so. For such a joint programme, the IOC would then commit another USD 2.5 million for the next Olympiad.”
A further policing factor would be more focus on athletes’ entourages.
Bach said: “We need zero tolerance for everybody: athletes and entourage. By putting the focus more on the entourage, by holding everybody implicated in a doping case accountable in a robust and deterrent way, and by close cooperation between all anti-doping stakeholders, we can take a major step forward to strengthen justice and credibility for the protection of the clean athletes and to drain the doping swamp.
“The challenges in the protection of the clean athletes can only be addressed in a relationship of mutual trust between governments and the sporting movement. They have the necessary authority and tools to take action. Therefore, I extend my hand to the governments for such a trustful partnership”.