2 March 2012

An open letter to Daley Thompson CBE

In response to your article in the UK newspaper Daily Mail of March 1, 2012, I would like to take this opportunity to address a number of the criticisms that you directed at the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

Out of respect for legal procedure I will not discuss the case that the British Olympic Association has taken by way of appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) which is to be heard by a panel of arbitrators on March 12.

However, you make a number of accusations and assumptions which I believe need to be corrected, not simply because they are criticisms of WADA, but because they are inaccurate and do a disservice to the Agency and the anti-doping community worldwide.

1. You say that you do not want the UK to be “dragged down by the rest of the world” with regards to sanctions. Well, there is no such thing as the “rest of the world” in terms of anti-doping. There is one World Anti-Doping Code and that is the basis for the fight against doping in sport worldwide and creates the harmony that is absolutely necessary. The UK sport bodies and UKAD follow those sanctions and the rest of the rules, and have done since the Code came into effect in 2003. The BOA has something extra, which over the 20 years it has been in place has affected 31 athletes of whom 28 have successfully appealed the ban.

The alternative would be to have anti-doping rules that vary from country to country, and sport to sport, which would be a return to the dark ages of anti-doping and a problem which existed during your time as an elite athlete.

It would result in athletes in different sports or from different countries receiving different bans for the same offences, and even worse athletes from the same sport receiving different penalties depending on the country they competed for. Indeed that was the very problem that led to the formation of WADA and the writing of a uniform Code.

To create the harmonization for all sports and all countries that we have is a huge international achievement, not replicated in any other walk of life. Currently, there are more than 650 signatories to the Code.

In addition, the governments of the world have ratified an international treaty (the means by which governments show commitment for the Code) which was written in record time for any international treaty and has now been ratified by 168 nations. The UK is one such ratifying government.

The Code has certainly given the “clarity” to anti-doping that you claim was missing.

2. Within your article you say the “only people who have caught anyone are the law enforcement agencies”.

I remind you that WADA is not a testing agency, but a regulatory body responsible for the monitoring of the Code, and for the maintaining of all the associated rules. The National Anti-Doping Agencies, the International Federations and the Major Games Organizers carry out the testing programs. Thousands of athletes have been found to have broken the rules over the years since the Code came into force in 2004 (at the Athens Olympic Games). The IOC has run a strong program pursuant to the Code at all subsequent Olympic Games and many athletes have had medals stripped and places withdrawn as a result.

The BALCO investigation was a significant step, and one in which the national anti-doping agency in the US (USADA ) and your former International Federation , the IAAF, were partners, ensuring that a number of athletes did not compete in Athens.

WADA has subsequently partnered with Interpol and World Customs to ensure that evidence that is gathered daily by the enforcement agencies can be shared with sport.

Intelligence gathering and investigations have been an important part of WADA’s overall strategy and will no doubt have a greater influence going forward. Testing and analysis is absolutely critical in the fight against doping in sport - and always will be. But the anti-doping community has more than one pillar, and intelligence is now part of an overall strategy that also includes education and outreach.

The evolution of science and the increasing influence of the underworld in doping activities have increased the challenge faced by the anti-doping authorities, both sport bodies and national agencies, almost on a yearly basis as dopers become even more sophisticated, aided by unscrupulous members of the athlete entourage. We have constantly alerted the world of sport to this. But testing remains the bedrock of the anti-doping community’s activities. There will always be ways to improve the programs and we are embarking on projects to assist those responsible to be more effective and efficient. The clean athlete deserves that.

What I can say is that testing is significantly more effective today than it was in your day, and significantly more effective today than it was 10 years ago. And if you were competing today I can guarantee that you would notice the difference; you would know that the athletes lining up alongside you are no longer able to abuse drugs with impunity.

3. There are references in your article to WADA’s budget and that of the anti-doping community worldwide. You are correct that WADA’s 2010 expenditure was approximately $29m (GBP 18m). The world of sport and the world’s governments meet half each. The budget is fully scrutinized by our Board. Every dollar is accounted for and explained.

We spend 20% annually on scientific research and much progress has been made as a result. We monitor the accredited laboratories; we review every sanction and appeal those which are inconsistent with the Code. We review all the Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs) granted to elite athletes, we prepare the Prohibited List annually; we provide educational materials and programs to all. We prepare a regular compliance report, we work together with UNESCO, Interpol, World Customs, the International Pharmaceutical Manufacturers, and we have established 15 Regional Anti-Doping Organizations covering 119 countries. And much more.

However, budgets are always relative to the task in hand and many in the world of sport and anti-doping would concur that $26.7m (GBP 16.9m) - WADA’s revenue in 2011 - is markedly insufficient to lead the fight against what is the biggest threat to modern sport.

I do not know the exact revenue generated annually by sport across the world, but a quick Google search reveals a figure of $200 billion. Compare that to the budget WADA has run the many programs and activities globally and I think many would agree that it is not a huge figure.

Some have suggested that the business of sport – and not just the IOC and governments – should be made to contribute to keeping their industry clean of cheats. When you consider that WADA’s 2011 budget equates to a miniscule 0.013 per cent of sport’s annual global revenue, it is easy to see how this argument developed.

4. My final point concerns your reference to the “bean-counters and do-gooders” that you say make up the WADA staff. I am not sure how you have reached that description nor do you attempt to explain it. However, I can advise you that we have a highly-competent and highly-qualified team of 55 spread over our five offices who do ‘good’ on a daily basis, and are whole-heartedly committed to the ‘clean’ athlete and to making sport as drug free as possible.

I would challenge you to find an organization that has achieved so much in such a short period of time, and united the world in the process.


David Howman

Director General

World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)