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Doping in Sport

12th June 2012 by , | No Comments

I was in Montreal a couple of weeks back.  Ordinarily work visits to Montreal (two hours by road from Ottawa) relate to discussions with Think Tanks and the business community.  Montreal, however is also the  headquarters of a number of international organisations, including  IATA (International Air Transport Authority); CBD (The Secretariat for the Convention on Biological Diversity) and WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency).  

It was WADA business that took me to Montreal this time in order to meet with New Zealand’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Murray McCully.  In the current New Zealand government the Foreign Minister also happens to hold the sports portfolio (until late last year he was also the Minister for the Rugby World Cup, but after New Zealand’s glorious victory in the final against France, the job was completed). 

This year Oceania (one of the five Olympic regions), for the first time, was chairing WADA’s Public Authority meetings (WADA is comprised of representatives – 50% sport and 50% public authority – and funded accordingly through the IOC and regional Governments).  In order to accommodate his attendance and role as Chair, Minister McCully added a day in Montreal to the front end of a wider visit to North America taking in Chicago (NATO Summit), New York (United Nations business) and Washington (State Department and to attend Pacific night at our Embassy).

It was fascinating to see the WADA membership in action as they worked through a substantive revision of the Anti-Doping Code.  This is a huge exercise and in reality never-ending as the fight against cheats in sports consistently comes up against ever more sophisticated drugs and doping protocols designed to evade detection.

While the shared common cause across membership, both by country and code, was to stamp out cheating, it was clear there were varying perspectives on issues such as levels of intrusiveness and tracking, tolerance levels, sanctions (e.g. length of bans) and the perennial question of budgetary rectitude, that is, just how much should the membership be willing to spend to ensure the science of WADA stays current or in front of the science of the cheats?

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