Drug Czar Ruffles IOC Feathers 

  Drug Czar Ruffles IOC Feathers 

Posted by FoM on December 15, 1999 at 16:10:48 PT
By Dick Patrick, USA TODAY 
Source: USA Today 

In the last 10 months, the fight against performance enhancing drugs has taken on a new meaning in the Olympics.It hasn't been testers vs. athletes, but the International Olympic Committee (IOC) vs. governments as to who will control the new testing body, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), scheduled to begin operation early next year.
U.S. drug czar Barry McCaffrey, a former four-star general, has emerged as a major player in the battle for WADA independence from the IOC, which McCaffrey and others believe is necessary to establish credibility.''He was quick to come in with an outside perspective, understand quickly what was going on and what needed to be done,'' says Frank Shorter, the 1976 Olympic marathon champion, of McCaffrey. ''Finally, there was someone who wasn't looking around at his butt every time he decided to do something.''If he was strong enough to take that political risk himself, he deserves a lot of credit. It's fortunate he happened to take an interest for those of us who cherish the Olympics.''Though his venture into international sport was new territory for his cabinet-level post, McCaffrey finds it logical.He points to surveys showing 500,000 teenagers a year using steroids. He and Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala will release on Friday a study indicating an alarming rise in teen use of steroids.''My concern is 56 million school children out there getting the message that drug use is necessary to compete at the highest level of sport,'' McCaffrey says. ''The Olympics is such a beautiful, idealized and visible symbol of athletic competition that, if it's corrupted by performance-enhancing drugs, then what could be free from it?''A Proper Introduction:McCaffrey introduced himself to the IOC world at its drug conference in February, saying the independence of the agency had to be accompanied by radical organizational reform.The IOC wasn't pleased. IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch was dismissive, with a he-ought-to-take-care-of-his-own-back-yard reaction. IOC vice president Dick Pound referred to him sarcastically as ''the mighty general.''Other Attendants Were Impressed:''He took some courageous steps,'' says Denis Coderre, Canada's minister of amateur sport. ''The U.S. didn't have the best record on the drug issue. It was important to see someone from the White House, not the USOC, saying we (governments) should work for a solution. He provoked the situation. He was also a team player.''To smooth relations with Samaranch and Pound, the interim head of WADA, McCaffrey used Henry Kissinger, the diplomat turned IOC reform committee member. McCaffrey also formed coalitions with several foreign governments, including Canada and Australia.McCaffrey, Samaranch and Pound were part of a photo op/news conference Tuesday in front of the Old Executive Office Building. The adversaries were allies, announcing 12 topics and 17 points they agreed on.Samaranch made a brief pronouncement: ''I think WADA will be very important, very useful for the fight in the future against doping.''But will it? The IOC made similar claims in 1990 when year-round testing was introduced. But drugs persisted.According to Tuesday's agreement, McCaffrey has many of his points. But is it victory?''The only victory is the IOC didn't manage to take the thing over lock, stock and barrel,'' says John Hoberman, a University of Texas professor who has written extensively about IOC drug testing. ''I would call it a partial victory.''I think the general has underestimated the way this crowd is going to persist in its old bad habits. If McCaffrey thinks passing a bunch of rules and getting X number of government agencies involved is going to reform the behavior of IOC personnel, I think he's mistaken.''Getting Organized:It is expected that a board of 32, composed equally of IOC-national Olympic-international federation members and governmental organizations, will run WADA. Pound says he doesn't want to stay as head for more than two years. ''That's time enough for Pound and the IOC to rig the personnel selection, procedures and goals and performance level of the institution,'' Hoberman says.A prime concern is independence of WADA. The testing of athletes by the IOC and international federations, charged to promote sport, presents a conflict. Pound negotiates the billions in Olympic TV rights. A drug scandal would be the last thing he wants.''You can't have a sport monitoring itself,'' says Victor LaChance, head of Canada's independent testing agency. ''If the purpose is to reassure the athlete and the public that the sport is addressing doping, it will fail. People perceive it as the fox guarding the henhouse or the police investigating the police.''WADA's scope of testing also is unclear. The agency might conduct as few as 3,000 tests its first year, allowing international federations to continue to conduct year-round testing. The track federation would continue to test track athletes and the cycling federation cyclists, continuing the cycle of conflict of interest and business as usual.Pound says ''this is evolving'' andWADA might supplant the federations.Skepticism Persists:At Tuesday's news conference, past Olympian and volleyball player Bob Ctvrlik, just inducted into IOC membership, endorsed WADA ''on behalf of the 10,000 active Olympians and 60,000 past Olympians still living.''His view isn't unanimous. Says Olympic track athlete and U.S. 1,500-meter champion Steve Holman: ''The athletes I've talked to are taking a wait-and-see attitude. We've heard pronouncements of reform before, but the past has shown they are merely pronouncements. There's not much action.''My fear is the new organization is too wedded to the IOC. The further away from the IOC, the better.''McCaffrey remains optimistic but also sounds a cautionary note:''This will take time. We ought to watch not (IOC) rhetoric but actions in the coming years.'' Published: December 15, 1999© Copyright 1999 USA TODAY a division of Gannett Co. Inc. Related Articles:Drug Czar Changes Tune On IOC Testing To Call for Pound's Removal at IOC Accepts IOC Invitation Drug Chief Chides `Hysterical' Reaction

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Comment #1 posted by kaptinemo on December 15, 1999 at 16:32:18 PT


I'm sure you can guess the obvious alliteration. Anti-Doping. As in an innocculation against stupidity, perhaps? Then we should force our elected officials, judges, DA's, cops, bureaucrats, and whatnot, rather than our athletes, to line up and piss in the bottle.This is pure Kafka. 
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