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World Anti-Doping Agency fears doping and organised crime in sport is ‘too big to manage’
Levels of doping in sport are now worse than ever, and a new trans-national body is needed to combat wide-ranging corruption, according to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
In the wake of the Lance Armstrong case, last week's report from the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) into organised crime and drugs, and other investigations around the world, WADA Director General David Howman has admitted the problem is getting "bigger and more serious" and is "getting too big for sport to manage".
Howman has issued a plea for a new "sports integrity unit", with WADA as part of it, that would take responsibility for combating doping, match-fixing, corrupt betting and other forms of cheating increasingly linked to global organised crime and liaise with law enforcement agencies around the world.
Senior anti-doping officials now fear the tentacles of organised crime are so deeply embedded in sport that it is "inevitable" that others face problems as serious as those experienced by cycling since the early 1990s, the scale and complexity of which is only now coming to light.
Global sports federations stand accused by the anti-doping movement of not doing enough to combat the threat of doping, too often failing to test enough blood samples for EPO and too often seeking to do the bare minimum.
Howman told UK newspaper The Guardian "where's the commitment here? We spend all the money and put everything in place. What we've discovered in the last number of years is that unless we make something mandatory, people won't do it. If it's discretionary, they think they don't have to bother."
Howman added that significant sums had been invested in developing a test for human growth hormone, which until recently was undetectable. But he estimated that only a quarter of the 12,000 blood samples taken in 2011, the most recent year for which figures are available, were tested for HGH – and of those the majority were for minor league baseball.
WADA President John Fahey this week called on other professional team sports to follow the lead of baseball and ensure that players were targeted for testing four times a season.
In the wake of the continuing revelations about the dark practices of the professional cycling peloton, the spotlight has begun to fall on other sports that are not considered to test sufficiently for blood doping, including football and tennis.
Howman said he was encouraged by the fact that the leading tennis players in the world were now calling for more testing.
WADA, set up in 1999 to combat doping on a global level and establish a universal set of rules, is also pushing for a series of changes to its 2015 code to force global sports bodies to test for the "full menu" of drugs, to target coaches and entourages and to double the standard sanction for failing a test from two to four years.
WADA remains in dispute with the world cycling's governing body over its handling of the fallout from the Armstrong case and this week condemned the UCI for its "inept response" to doping down the years.
But Howman said it was "inevitable" that other sports had similarly deep-seated problems, and identified athletics as among the most seriously affected.
According to WADA's figures, the number of adverse or atypical findings across sport is just under 2%. But according to a study of blood samples collected after the Daegu World Athletics Championships in 2011, estimates of the prevalence of blood doping averaged 14%.
Howman explains "that means that it's more than what people think, that's all you can say. I would put athletics in that bunch – as a potential new UCI. That's an area where we've got to be very attentive. The IAAF, to be fair, are aware of it. They've introduced a (biological) passport and we hope they'll continue with it."
Howman said that the influx of money into global sport over the past decade had attracted the criminal underworld and led to an explosion over the past five years in the trade in banned substances and in the potential for match-fixing.
Howman concluded "those things are huge to have to deal with if you're running a small anti-doping program. We see it all. I've been saying these things for five or six years and all of a sudden people are saying: 'Shit, he was right.'"
For more information go to www.crimecommission.gov.au
8th February 2013 - AUSTRALIAN SPORT REACTS TO CLAIMS OF DOPING AND CRIME LINKS
7th February 2013 - DRUGS AND CRIME REPORT ROCKS AUSTRALIAN SPORT
3rd February 2013 - GOVERNMENT ENDORSES BLUEPRINT TO PROTECT THE FUTURE OF AUSTRALIAN CYCLING
19th January 2013 - 'SERIAL CHEAT' ARMSTRONG’S DOPING ADMISSIONS QUESTIONED BY WADA PRESIDENT FAHEY
8th November 2012 - NEW UNIT TO PROTECT THE INTEGRITY OF AUSTRALIA SPORT
20th October 2012 - LUNDY CALLS FOR CYCLING AUSTRALIA REVIEW
17th October 2012 - NEW PARTNERSHIP TO TACKLE DOPING IN SPORT
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