Sun, Jul 06, 2003 - Page 24 News List

World Anti-Doping Code approved by Olympic committee

AP , PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC

A new global code against doping in sports was approved Friday by the International Olympic Committee.

The World Anti-Doping Code, adopted in March by sports bodies and governments around the world, sets out uniform rules and sanctions for all sports and countries.

The code, drawn up the World Anti-Doping Agency, was formally approved by acclamation on the final day of the IOC general assembly in Prague. The IOC changed its charter to replace its own medical code with the new global version.

The world anti-doping code is the first global policy against banned performance-enhancing substances. It was endorsed at a conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The code calls for measures including two-year suspensions for steroid or other serious doping offenses. WADA is also considering whether to add an "exceptional circumstances" clause to the sanctions.

Sports organizations are required to enact the code before next year's Athens Olympics. Governments have until the 2006 Winter Games in Turin, Italy.

IOC member Dick Pound, who also serves as WADA chairman, harshly criticized governments which have failed to pay their contributions to WADA's US$21 million budget. The US, France, Spain and Italy are among those failing to pay so far.

"The implementation of the code ... and the progress of WADA's other activities depends on WADA receiving the full budget," Pound told the delegates, urging them pressure their governments to pay.

Research to prevent genetic doping was among the programs suffering because of the budget problems, Pound said. Payments were due at the end of 2002 but WADA has received only a little more than half the money.

Later, Pound told reporters that he and IOC president Jacques Rogge had discussed punishing delinquent governments by refusing to let their teams march under their national flag at Olympic opening ceremonies, or by refusing government officials accreditation to the games. The sanctions could be introduced during the 2004 Athens Games, he added.

"There'll be governments that say, `wait a minute, you mean I'm going to have to explain to my people at home and to my athletes why they can't march behind their flag in the opening ceremonies?'" Pound said. "Even the thought of that would attract my attention if I were a sports minister."

But governments that had promised to pay would be accepted, even if the money came after the deadline, Pound said. The US has said it will make its US$1 million payment later this year.

The IOC, which has committed to match all government contributions dollar by dollar, has also been slow to pay, Pound said. As of Friday, the IOC has paid about US$6 million of its US$10.5 million share, he said.

"The Olympic movement, including the IOC, is just as much in the fault as governments and creates just as much problem as governments," Pound said.

Though the IOC policy to withhold money until governments pay is understandable, ``it does no service to WADA and no service to the fight against doping in sport,'' Pound said.

Rogge said the IOC had made a recent contribution that meant it had paid US$1 million more than the governments.

"Governments cannot pay lip service. If they want to fight against doping, they must be serious," he said. "If the governments don't want to pay, there is no future for WADA."

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