IOC calls conference to debate role of WADA as row rumbles on
War of words between UCI, IOC and WADA
The International Olympic Committee has called a conference to debate the role of WADA in determining the future of sport in the wake of doping scandals which have affected cycling and a number of other sports in recent months.
IOC director general Christophe De Kepper told The Associated Press the meeting will be held in Lausanne, Switzerland, in late April or early May with international sports federations, national Olympic committees and athletes.
The meeting was requested by Francesco Ricci Bitti, head of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and the IOC's head of Association of Summer Olympic International Federations, which represents the 26 sports in the games, in a formal request to IOC President Jacques Rogge.
In an excerpt from his letter Rogge quoted in The Age Ricci Bitti says, ''Relations with WADA have deteriorated significantly and the lack of help and support from WADA against a background of constant media criticism of its sports 'partners' and the consequent breakdown of trust need to be addressed as a priority,''
The relationship between the World Anti Doping Agency and cycling's international governing body in particular have never been good, but WADA has also had numerous run-ins with other sports federations including FIFA and the ITF - and last year it criticised the IOC - the body which provides half its funding - over its failure to re-test samples from the 2004 Athens Olympics.
The WADA/UCI relationship hit a new low in the wake of USADA's investigation in to Lance Armstrong and the UCI's attempts to deal with the fall-out by first setting up an independent commission to look in to its role in the affair, and then unilaterally abandoning that appoach in favour of a truth and reconciliation commission. Both organisations have sought support from the IOC.
Earlier this week we reported how the UCI and WADA were locked in bitter recriminations, with UCI president Pat McQuaid having written to his fellow members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to ask for their support in the governing body's battle with WADA that has seen the Independent Commission disbanded and stalemate ensue over the setting up of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
The UCI was branded "arrogant" and "deceitful" by WADA president John Fahey on Tuesday after cycling's governing body had said it was working with the agency to formulate a Truth and Reconciliation process.
In a letter sent by McQuaid to all 101 IOC members, the UCI president outlines the UCI's position and concludes by saying: "We would welcome any support you can offer in underlining to WADA the importance of working in partnership and cooperation.with the UCI to establish this Truth and Reconcilliation Commission."
And just days ago, Jacques Rogge said the IOC backs Pat McQuaid’s presidency of the UCI and urged the two agencies to put an end to their public row. That seems a remote prospect, however, with UCI honorary president Hein Verbruggen attacking WADA and its former president Dick Pound in a letter sent to all 15 members of the IOC’s executive board, in which he also defends the UCI against allegations of helping protect Lance Armstrong.
In his letter, Verbruggen outlined some of those perceived injustices, rejecting allegations the UCI was complicit in helping Armstrong evade detection.
"Cover-ups never took place,” he maintained. "Not only this would never have been allowed, but also since there simply was nothing to cover-up. Armstrong, nor his team mates ever tested positive.”
While McQuaid and Verbruggen's handling of the many problems besetting cycling has seemed to lurch from one crisis moment to another the current and former UCI presidents appear much more adept when it comes to navigating the currents of international sporting politics at the highest levels.
WADA was set up under the abrassive leadership of Dick Pound by the IOC to clean up sport in the wake of the Festina doping scandal in cycling and the organisation still meets 50 per cent of its funding - the other half being met by governments. The IOC and governments take it in turns to appoints the head of WADA - Fahey, Pound's only slightly less pugnacious successor was the governments pick. The IOC will nominate it's choice as Fahey's successor in November.