Introductory Remarks by WADA President John Fahey
WADA Press Conference, London, July 25, 2012Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you for being with us today for WADA’s traditional pre-Olympic press conference.
As you all know, the Olympic Games represents the pinnacle of sporting excellence and the highlight in the careers of many of the athletes who will be competing in London over the next 15 days.
WADA is delighted to be here in London playing an active role in the anti-doping activities and helping the IOC and LOCOG to provide an Olympic Games that is as free from doping as is possible.
For the world’s anti-doping community, the build up to London 2012 has been a particularly important period in terms of its efforts to protect the rights of clean athletes at the Olympic Games, as well as the event’s integrity.
So before I give an overview of WADA’s role at London 2012, I would like to share with you some anti-doping figures that give an indication of the work that has been undertaken ahead of the Games.
In the six months prior to July 19, at least 107 athletes from Summer Olympic sports have been sanctioned for a period of ineligibility that includes these Games. I cannot confirm how many of these athletes would have qualified for their national Olympic teams, but had that been their ambition then I am pleased to say that they are not with us in London.
In terms of total tests in the six months prior to July 19, the world’s anti-doping community – and by that I mean organizations that are signatories to the World Anti-Doping Code – has conducted at least 71,649 tests on summer Olympic sports.
I hope these figures give an indication of the concerted effort of the anti-doping community to prevent doping cheats from reaching London.
These figures are significant because they illustrate how the enhanced coordination between anti-doping organizations, in particular through the use of WADA’s Anti-Doping Administration and Management System (the central database know as ADAMS), helps significantly protect the right of clean athletes to pursue their Olympic dreams.
In terms of WADA’s role during the Games, it is important to stress that WADA is not a testing agency. Rather, it is the independent international organization responsible for monitoring and coordinating the fight against doping in sport.
The overall anti-doping program is the joint-responsibility of the IOC or IPC and the local organizers; on this occasion LOCOG.
WADA contributes significantly to that program through its Independent Observer Missions, which comprise a team of nine for the Olympic Games and a team of five for the Paralympic Games.
The Olympic IO team is chaired by René Bouchard, who is with us today. René is the Director General of Portfolio Affairs Office at the department of Canadian Heritage, and has served on WADA’s Executive Committee and Education Committee. His team will monitor the various phases of the doping control and results management procedures and publish a summary report following the Games.
The independent observer program was first introduced at the Sydney Games in 2000 and has been used at more than 30 major events since. I am confident it will again prove of significant help the IOC, IPC and LOCOG.
Anti-doping awareness is also a crucial part of WADA’s overall strategy, and the agency will have Athlete Outreach Programs in operation at both the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
There are many reasons why athletes should steer clear of doping substances and methods, and the Outreach teams use a variety of methods to deliver these anti-doping messages. Athletes can visit the Outreach Centres at their own leisure, where they can interact with anti-doping experts in a relaxed and engaging environment.
In addition to the Independent Observer and Outreach teams, WADA also monitors the applications for and approval of Therapeutic Use Exemptions during the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and also has a Right of Appeal which it can exercise if it believes the results management process of an anti-doping rules violation has not been followed correctly.
I would like to conclude my introduction by applauding the anti-doping efforts of the IOC, IPC and LOCOG for putting in place a program that will make London 2012 the most tested Games in Olympic history.
I would also like to take this opportunity to remind athletes and their entourages that samples can be stored and re-tested for up to eight years, as we have seen recently with samples from Athens 2004.