WADA: Remaining sports fall in line

Updated: May 8, 2009, 9:54 AM ET
Associated Press

LONDON -- The last five Olympic sports that had failed to fully comply with global anti-doping rules have now fallen into line, ensuring their presence in the Games.

Gymnastics, wrestling, volleyball, handball and modern pentathlon have met World Anti-Doping Agency requirements by starting out-of-competition testing programs, WADA director general David Howman told The Associated Press.

"They have done what was expected," Howman said. "This removes the impediment that was in the way last year."

The move, which will be confirmed at WADA executive committee and foundation board meetings in Montreal this weekend, means that all 26 summer Olympic sports are in compliance.

It also lifts any threat of the five sports being kicked out of the Olympics. Under International Olympic Committee rules, any sports that don't comply with the WADA code can be removed from the Olympic program.

At the last WADA meetings in November, the five sports were singled out for failing to follow the code, which was first approved in 2003 and set out rules across all sports and countries.

Rather than formally rebuke the five sports, WADA extended the deadline for six months to give the federations more time to come into line.

"They are doing what they didn't do last year," Howman said. "In a nutshell, we don't have the same concerns any more."

No-notice, out-of-competition testing is considered vital to deterring and catching drug cheats. Dozens of athletes from around the world were caught ahead of the Beijing Olympics in surprise pre-Games tests.

The General Association of International Sports Federations recently decided to open an anti-doping office in Lausanne, Switzerland, to help set up out-of-competition testing programs for smaller sports that can't afford to do so on their own.

WADA has been monitoring compliance with the code since its adoption six years ago. WADA has no power to take action against non-compliant bodies, leaving that to the IOC.

Under a change expected to be approved this weekend, WADA will publish a list at each board meeting of sports bodies that are in compliance with the code, rather than those that are not.

"Rather than a red light policy, it will be a green light policy," Howman said.

WADA is also expected to finalize an agreement with European countries on so-called "data protection" -- the information athletes give about their medicine, doctors, coaches and other personal issues.

The agency may also consider the fallout from the controversial "whereabouts" rule, which requires elite athletes to make themselves available for out-of-competition testing for one hour a day, 365 days a year.

Many athletes contend the system violates their right to privacy, and FIFA has sought an exemption for soccer and other team sports.

Howman said the rule, which went into effect on Jan. 1, is gaining in acceptance and will be reviewed after a full year in practice.

"There was a rush of criticism in January and February," Howman said. "As time has gone on, we are being proved to be right in saying, 'Give it time.' "

Howman said WADA will likely examine the case of U.S. swimmer Jessica Hardy, who had her two-year suspension for a failed test reduced to one year last week by the American Arbitration Association.

The 22-year-old swimmer missed the Beijing Olympics after testing positive for a low level of clenbuterol at the U.S. trials.

The arbitrators found Hardy's positive test was caused by a contaminated nutritional supplement. The panel ruled that her ban should be reduced because she had received personal assurances from the manufacturer regarding the purity of its supplements.

The ruling can be appealed to the Court of Arbitration of Sport. Howman expects WADA to make a decision in the next three weeks.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press