Mon, Nov 19, 2007 - Page 19 News List

Fahey elected to replace Pound as WADA president


Australian politician John Fahey was elected president of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in Madrid on Saturday.

Fahey was a key figure in the Sydney 2000 Olympics bid and spent 17 years in state and federal politics in Australia before retiring in 2001 for health reasons after contracting lung cancer.

The 62-year-old lawyer will succeed Canada's Dick Pound, who has been in office since the foundation of WADA in 1999, for a three-year period from Jan. 1.

However, Fahey's election at the four-yearly World Conference on Doping in Sport was not without a modicum of controversy.

Four of the 17 government members of the WADA Foundation Board, all from Europe, abstained before Fahey was endorsed unanimously by the Olympic movement members on the board.

"For days, those that represent Europe have indicated that there was nothing personal in this and it was an issue relating to other matters," Fahey said at a press conference on Saturday.

"Since the decision, each of the Europeans in the room has come forward and expressed their willingness to work with me. I've made it clear that I will go to Europe early in the new year to see how we can cooperate and collaborate in the work ahead," said Fahey, extending an olive branch to his opponents.

The Australian was the sole candidate for the post after former WADA vice president Jean-Francois Lamour resigned his post and withdrew from the race last month.

Various European governments voiced discontent that Fahey was the only candidate to take over from Pound, who was a relatively late entry into the race.

The Council of Europe unsuccessfully touted former French sports minister Guy Drut as a last-minute alternative candidate on Friday.

"The rumors of the past few days, they don't amount to anything, anymore. Do they," said Fahey, clearly irritated that the confusion over the presidential contest had overshadowed other matters at the conference.

Swedish scientist Arne Ljungqvist was elected to fill the position left vacant by Lamour.

Fahey will work closely with the respected Ljungqvist, a former International Association of Athletics Federation vice president, in continuing the work of the controversial and outspoken, but undeniably successful, Pound.

"I recognize that this task will require enormous energy and commitment, conviction and an effort from myself. It is a fight we must win," Fahey said.

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