WADA in political power struggle

By Hedwig Kröner

The was-to-be successor of Richard Pound, head of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), has stepped down from his candidacy this week. Former French minister of Sports and current WADA vice-president, Jean-François Lamour, decided not to run for WADA presidency after a new candidate, Australian John Fahey, was named just one month before the election.

"I don't want to be the president of a World Anti-Doping Agency which has no clear and straightforward vision of its mission, and which cannot stand firm against outside pressure," Lamour told L'Equipe on Thursday, discrediting especially the Anglo-Saxon members of WADA.

"Every year, we fight to keep the list of banned substances coherent: that corticoids, against the will of the Anglo-Saxons, remain forbidden; that the detection of exogenous testosterone remains at a first threshold of four (4:1) when the Anglo-Saxons want to return it to six. I also note that the New Zealanders have been battling for the authorization of cannabis for a while now... And those who praise the liberalisation of doping aren't very far away."

Lamour now wants to create a European Anti-Doping Agency with the help of the Council of the European Union, and feels that the European approach is under pressure within the Agency. "We could finance [this project] by reducing contributions to WADA and give them to this new entity. I would not – contrary to what WADA just did – reject the offer of financing by the European Broadcasting Union, which has proposed to make TV stations participate in the fight against doping. How can you just reject this offer if you're not trying to sideline Europe?"

Within WADA, Lamour described two camps, "One, more Anglo-Saxon, is for a more minimalist role of WADA which would stay a service provider for international federations and tempted to say 'the less doping cases there are, the better for us'. On the other side, there is a more political and more European vision of the Agency, holding on to ethics and the protection of athletes, fighting trafficking – a sort of international police officer in the fight against doping, as IOC president Jacques Rogge wishes. That's also my concept of the fight. I am ready today to build this new entity [a European Anti-Doping Agency]."

The election of the new WADA president to replace Richard Pound will be held on November 17 in Madrid.

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