SYDNEY (Reuters) – Interpol and the World Anti-Doping Agency are close to signing an agreement as part of a strategy to stop drug trafficking in sport.
WADA president John Fahey said on Wednesday he had met with officials from the world’s largest international police organisation in France earlier this year and that the two bodies wanted to start trading information about drug trafficking.
“We’re very close to signing a memorandum of understanding for information sharing with Interpol which, of course, is a body which collects data and shares information with police enforcement agencies around the world,” Fahey told a news conference in Sydney.
“We believe we’ve got some commonalities and common purpose and sharing information in the area of drugs, and in our case performance enhancing drugs.
“Sometimes there is a belief that some of those performance-enhancing drugs might emanate from the same place as illegal drugs.”
WADA director-general David Howman said the Interpol agreement was all part of WADA’s wider strategy to involve governments and enforcement agencies in the fight against drugs in sport.
Howman said Marion Jones’s prison sentence for lying about steroid use proved how effective cooperation between government and anti-doping agencies can be in the fight against drugs in sport, but said much more needs to be done.
WADA is staging a two-day symposium in Sydney this week to investigate new ways of sharing information with governments and plans to present their findings at their next meeting in Montreal later this month.
“There are other ways of detecting the cheats and Marion Jones is a good example,” Howman said.
“We can see now that for little money those who are already carrying out their jobs under national legislation and so forth can gather evidence, share it with sport and make sure that those who are cheating are sanctioned.
“That’s the outcome we’re trying to achieve.”
Fahey, a former Australian politician, also issued a blunt warning to prospective drug cheats at this year’s Beijing Olympics, promising an unprecedented crackdown by drug testers.
He said more than 4,500 tests would be carried out in Beijing, including a new and improved test for the once-undetectable human growth hormone (HGH).
“I was impressed with the state of readiness (in Beijing), I certainly detected a level of expertise that can deal with whatever they have to deal with over the course of the games,” he said.
“There will be more tests this time than ever before and I think I can be very confident as WADA has evolved and got better in its expertise in the past eight years or so there will be a much more effective outcome in dealing with anyone who seeks to cheat.
“In the battle with the scientists, there’s little doubt that the scientists who are actually working for the white knights are getting better all the time and countering the scientists who are working with the other side.
“There were certain years with certain drugs that allowed athletes to believe that if they cut it out in the days leading up to the games they could get away with it.
“They should not be sure of that anymore. We are better now at detecting over longer periods.”