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Bach calls for smarter testing, zero-tolerance on doping

IOC President Thomas Bach speaks at the 2013 WADA Conference in Johannesburg. © WADA

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach has called for the common fight against doping to be stepped up and strengthened to protect the “majority of athletes who are clean”.

Speaking at the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)’s 2013 World Conference on Doping in Sport in Johannesburg, South Africa, the President told delegates that the ultimate goal was the protection of clean athletes:

“What we need is the greatest possible deterrence. All of us gathered here in Johannesburg are united in our zero-tolerance attitude to doping. The IOC will continue to pursue this fight with great determination and clear measures.”

President Bach called for even greater cooperation with all partners, including government authorities and anti-doping organisations, at national and regional levels.

“We need a better exchange of information between state authorities, the sports movement and the national anti-doping organisations,” he said. “We expect governments to create better conditions for cooperation with sport, especially in terms of exchange of information.”

And he called for state authorities to do more to severely punish those behind doping, including the dealers, agents, coaches, doctors and scientists involved.

Backing a change in the [link id=”237″ tax=”post_tag” text=”WADA Code”] that would see the sanction for serious violations changed from two to four years, the President said that an improved Code was not enough in itself.

“Even a much-improved Code is not enough by itself”, he said. “As in sport, what counts is the result on the field. We need even more sophisticated targeted tests, more individual profiling and more scientific research.”

And he urged further research in the hunt for new ways to catch the cheats:

“We should be focusing on anti-doping research. And also in this area, we should be open to new ways of thinking. Is it not time to find out, for example, whether blood and urine tests are really the best and ultimate solution? Might there be other testing methods, which are even more reliable, more sustainable, more effective, and maybe even less intrusive?” he asked the Conference.

The President also promised that the testing programme for Sochi 2014 would be the most stringent in the history of the Olympic Winter Games, and would feature targeted testing both before and during the competition period, using information from sport and anti-doping agencies worldwide.

“With a record number of samples and pre-competition tests, we shall be smarter and tougher in our fight against doping than at any previous Olympic Winter Games. We shall perform these tests anywhere in the world – as a more effective, more flexible, better deterrent. We shall improve our anti-doping system with regard to both quality and quantity,” he said.

“In order to achieve this, the IOC has increased the number of pre-competition tests from 804 for Vancouver to 1,269 for Sochi. That is an increase of 57 per cent. In all, we will perform 2,453 tests, compared with 2,149 in Vancouver. That is an increase of 14 per cent – with a special focus on team sports,” he added.

Read Thomas Bach, Keynote speech at the 4th World Conference on Doping in Sport

Taking place from November 12 to 15 , the 2013 World Conference on Doping in Sport is the fourth of its kind, with the leading stakeholders in the worldwide anti-doping community in attendance.

The WADA Foundation Board is scheduled to vote on changes to the WADA Code on Friday November 15. The Board will also elect a new President to replace John Fahey, whose term of office concludes at the end of 2013. President Bach reaffirmed the IOC’s commitment to “broadening and strengthening” its “intensive cooperation” with the new leadership.

(Photo: IOC President Thomas Bach speaks at the 2013 WADA Conference in Johannesburg / Credit: © WADA)

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Yomog Meje is a former Nigerian junior athlete and the Associate editor at Athletics Africa.

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