WADA President John Fahey in his opening remarks to the media gathered in Beijing for the Summer Olympic Games, lauds the progress in anti-doping since the 2004 Athens Games when all sports federations accepted the World Anti-Doping Code.
From Athens to Beijing
The Hon. John Fahey, A.C.
President, World Anti-Doping Agency
WADA Press Conference
August 7, 2008
From Athens to Beijing
It was just four years ago, on the eve of the Athens Games, that all Olympic sports federations had adopted the World Anti-Doping Code. At that moment in time, the World Anti-Doping Code was agreed to and adopted, but it still remained to be seen how it would be implemented, and what the ultimate outcome would be for sport.
We can now look back over the past four years with a certain degree of satisfaction. The spate of doping cases and investigations in the lead-up to the Beijing Games are just one indication that the worldwide fight against doping in sport has made a giant leap forward. It is also an indication that the World Anti-Doping Code is a fair and effective means for rooting out doping.
As a result of the Code, for which the World Anti-Doping Agency is the mandated custodian and monitor, progress in several key areas has been made:
- More sports have started doing out-of-competition testing, as required under the Code;
- Governments have become more and more involved on many different levels, including supporting robust national testing programs;
- In fact, many of these recent positive cases are the result of nations stepping up their testing efforts to ensure that the athletes they send to Beijing are clean;
- Testing tactics themselves have gotten smarter, more targeted with experience;
- Yes, increasing the numbers of tests means that more athletes can be tested, but the real progress lies in using intelligence in targeting those tests;
- We continue to close the gap on rogue science: it is a constant race, but by partnering with the pharmaceutical industry we are now able to detect some drugs even prior to their coming to market;
- WADA’s introduction of the strategy involving investigations and cooperation with law enforcement has helped to put the squeeze on the manufacture and trafficking of illegal doping substances;
- And there has been a great deal of education of athletes and officials about their responsibilities
Under the Code, so that now there really is no excuse for doping.
These are all important factors contributing to the progress in the fight against doping in sport.
WADA’s Role at the Beijing Games
As relates directly to the Beijing Games and the role that WADA plays, you may be aware that WADA has worked closely with the Chinese government and the Chinese Anti-Doping Agency over the past several years to ensure that they are fully aware of what is needed to implement an effective anti-doping programme, both domestically and for the 2008 Olympic Games.
WADA’s leadership has made several official visits to Beijing in recent years and we have been pleased to see the rapid progress in the creation of an independent anti-doping programme and the building of a state-of-the-art laboratory.
As regards Testing for the Beijing Games, let it first be clear that WADA is not a testing agency. We are the independent international agency responsible for monitoring and coordinating the global fight against doping in sport. Therefore, generally speaking, testing is the responsibility of the national anti-doping organizations, the sports federations, and the major games organisers. As such, the in-competition testing here in Beijing is the responsibility of the International Olympic Committee.
WADA does however play an important role in helping the IOC and the Beijing Organizing Committee when it comes to testing in the lead-up to the Games and testing of Olympic athletes away from Olympic venues, for example for those athletes who arrive late, leave early, or do not stay at official Olympic sites. This very collaborative strategy among the three organizations helps to ensure testing is targeted and most likely to catch cheats prior to their competing.
As for Monitoring, this is a very significant role that WADA plays during the Olympic Games. We do this through our Independent Observers Programme. Beijing will be the 5th Olympic Games to which WADA has sent an Independent Observer team to monitor the doping control and results management. And let me take a moment here to recognize and thank the Chair of WADA’s Independent Observer Team, Ms Sarah Lewis.
Ms Lewis will lead a team of 12 individuals recruited from around the world for their expertise in the different aspects of anti-doping. Their task will be to randomly monitor all phases of the anti-doping process in a neutral and unbiased manner. They will verify that appropriate procedures have been followed by the IOC and will submit their observations and recommendations in a final report following the Games.
With a team of independent experts monitoring the anti-doping during the Games, athletes and the public can have greater confidence in the process and outcome of these activities.
And last but certainly not least is Education. WADA will conduct an Athlete Outreach Programme in the Athlete’s Village to educate athletes and officials about the dangers and consequences of doping. This programme engages athletes in a fun and inter-active way by inviting them to play computer games that teach about clean sport and athlete responsibilities under the Code.
I’d like to pause for a moment to express our gratitude to Lenovo for its sponsorship of our Athlete Outreach Programme. Lenovo has provided co-branded USB keys that contain educational materials about anti-doping for all athletes who visit the WADA Outreach center. Lenovo representative, Alice Li, who is Lenovo’s Vice President for Olympic Marketing, is here in the front row, and it gives me great pleasure to recognize Ms. Li and her company for their generous support.
Of course, WADA will continue to play its other traditional roles during the Olympic Games, including exercising our Right of Appeal to the International Court of Arbitration for Sport should doping cases occur that are not in line with the World Anti-Doping Code.
The road from Athens to Beijing has been marked with many successes in the fight against doping, starting with the adoption of the World Anti-Doping Code. While it would be naïve to think that there will be no doping during the Games, we can be sure that with all of the progress of these past four years, the cheats stand a greater chance of being caught. And looking beyond Beijing, WADA will continue to press for further progress in rooting out doping and protecting the rights of clean athletes.