FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: SUNDAY, FEB. 24, 2002
Contact: Bob Weiner (801) 215-7489, (202) 361-0611; Isabelle Tornare
WORLD ANTI-DOPING AGENCY PRESIDENT RICHARD POUND ASSERTS
DRUG (DOPING) PROBLEM APPEARS "VASTLY IMPROVED" AT SALT LAKE GAMES -
BECAUSE OF DETERRENCE OF TESTS PRIOR TO GAMES, ATHLETE VALUES,
TESTING DURING GAMES, AND NEW ANTI-DOPING CULTURE WITH STRONG IOC SUPPORT
Also Notes 500+ Salt Lake Olympians Signed up for "Athlete Passport",
Independent Observer reporting
of Games drug tests, and WADA Future Agenda including
More Testing, Research, and
Upcoming March 17-20 Genetics Conference of Experts to Remain Ahead of Cheaters
(Salt Lake City, Utah, USA) World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) President Richard Pound today asserted that "The Drug (Doping) problem at the Salt Lake Olympics appears vastly improved over previous major world and Olympic competitions. The deterrence of more than 3600 out of competition unannounced tests over the past year with all athletes knowing they were subject to testing, increasingly strong athlete support for a level playing field, testing during the Games themselves, and a new anti-doping culture with strong International Olympic Committee (IOC) support help to explain why there were few athletes found positive and even those were fully exposed."
Pound also noted the success of the "Athlete Passport" participation by Olympians at the Salt Lake Games. Over 500 signed up during the Games and have joined this voluntary program, documenting the athlete's drug test/doping control record on a passport-like folder and on the Internet. Pound expressed his "hope that ultimately most athletes in all Olympic sports will participate" and stated that WADA would be offering athletes an opportunity to sign up at future world championships and major competitions.
Pound announced an upcoming March conference on genetic doping as "a way to stay ahead of and take action against potential high-tech cheating filled with physical and ethical considerations." This conference, set for the Banbury Center in Cold Spring Harbor, New York, March 17-20, will bring together leading genetic scientists, medical ethicists, officials and athletes and "will help us determine where we go and what we do about this important potential problem so that we can be pro-active in staying ahead of the cheaters."
Pound cited significant international and governmental cooperation achieved during meetings here in Salt Lake including meetings he and WADA Director General Harri Syväsalmi held with governments from Germany, France, Denmark, Finland, Canada, the Netherlands, Japan, and the U.S. WADA has agreements with virtually all International Sports Federations to conduct testing, and governments provide half of WADA's seventeen million dollar annual budget beginning this year (the other half comes from the IOC).
Pound said that WADA "looks forward to increasing further the number of unannounced, out-of-competition tests." Another major priority in WADA's future agenda is research, and some 30 million U.S. dollars is planned for this over five years. "Many of the banned substances, like EPO and HGH and steroids, have legitimate medical purposes when prescribed for diseases but are perverted by cheaters who use them to enhance athletic performance. The biochemistry of these substances is already known, so WADA will be doing reverse engineering - finding out how these substances are abused for sports," he explained.
Pound noted that the WADA Independent Observer Team will prepare a public report on the drug tests/doping controls at the Games. He said that the presence of this Team to observe all stages of the testing helps to assure equal treatment, honesty and disclosure. The WADA Independent Observer report will be published in April. The Independent Observer report will consider recommending further improvements in such areas as blood testing.
WADA has prepared a comprehensive newsletter -- its
first -- laying out the Agency's program and agenda. Media representatives
may obtain a copy by calling or e-mailing the addresses on this release.
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