WADA chief: Lax rules on doping could cost sports slot in Olympics

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GUATEMALA CITY (AP) – The head of the World Anti-Doping Agency warned Friday that “more than a handful” of Olympic sports have failed to comply with anti-doping rules, endangering their place in future games.

“We suspect there is substantial noncompliance by many of the international federations,” Dick Pound told the International Olympic Committee assembly. “If a sport or a national Olympic committee is not code compliant, the sport in particular cannot remain on the program of the Olympic Games.”

Pound later declined to say which sports, or exactly how many, are in danger.

However, a WADA report distributed at the meeting Friday showed that 13 of the 35 Olympic sports federations were not in compliance as of May 4. It also indicated that only 21 of the world’s 203 national Olympic committees had complied. The report did not identify the sports or committees.

Pound said he hoped the warning would prod them to action before a report by WADA in September. If any of the federations still fail to comply by a WADA board meeting in November 2008, the agency will report those sports to the IOC for possible action.

Summer and winter sports are among those that have failed to fully implement the global anti-doping code, Pound said.

Any formal decision to remove a sport from the Olympics is up to the IOC. Earlier Friday, the IOC adopted rules changes that would allow a sport to be dropped at a short notice for “exceptional reasons,” including refusal to comply with anti-doping rules.

Noncompliance can include failure to conduct out-of-competition testing or have a reliable drug testing management system, Pound said.

The first time a sport could be removed would be for the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, but Pound said he expected all seven winter sports federations to be in line by then.

Pound said some smaller federations “just don’t know what to do” to comply with the rules, while others simply refuse.

“It’s the old system,” he said. “It’s embarrassing to have any positive cases, so they just don’t want to have any positive cases.”

Without singling out cycling as one of the offenders, Pound said the sport’s governing body – the UCI – had allowed doping “to get out of hand.”

“It’s not only organized, it’s endemic,” Pound said, adding that the sport’s credibility “is in shreds.”

Pound said WADA wants to increase the punishment for “aggravated” doping violations from a two-year suspension to a ban of up to four years. Research has found that the benefit from using anabolic steroids “may last longer than the two years,” he said.

The stiffer penalty will be proposed at the world anti-doping conference in Madrid in November.

Athletics’ world governing body is pushing for a move to four-year bans for all serious doping offenses.

Pound said WADA also is proposing that athletes be suspended provisionally as soon as a B, or backup, sample tests positive. That would stop athletes from continuing to compete while contesting a confirmed doping violation.

In addition, the agency proposes increasing the minimum penalty from three months to one year for athletes who fail to meet requirements on reporting their whereabouts and being available for doping tests.

Lamine Diack, president of the International Association of Athletics Federations, said the body had “faced huge problems within the United States.”

Diack complained about confusion over sprinter Marion Jones’ test results from the June 2006 U.S. Championships in Indianapolis, where the five-time Olympic medalist tested positive for EPO. She immediately requested a B sample test, which was negative, clearing her of any offense.

Pound also expressed concern about the Jones case.

“We have not, despite considerable efforts, got a satisfactory explanation as to why there was a variation between the A and the B sample,” he said. “We’re still pursuing it.”

Pound said that conflict between A and B samples “shouldn’t happen if it’s done properly … Some of that is a lack of sufficient expertise in some of the labs.”

Jones, the only woman to win five track and field medals in an Olympics, has long been dogged by suspicions of doping, but she has never conclusively tested positive for a banned substance.

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