Study Criticizes IOC in Drug Fight

Study Criticizes IOC in Drug Fight
Posted by FoM on September 09, 2000 at 09:11:57 PT
By The Associated Press
Source: New York Times 
An Olympic culture infused with corporate endorsements and lacking unified leadership makes athletes more likely to turn to drugs in their quest for gold, according to a White House-financed study released Friday.The 107-page report, released one week before the start of the Sydney Olympics, criticizes the International Olympic Committee and other sports governing bodies for their ``crazy quilt of jurisdictions'' and inconsistent policies for combating performance-enhancing drugs.
``The aura of secrecy in which these bodies squirrel test results invites public cynicism about the integrity and the meaning of record-breaking Olympic performances,'' said Joseph A. Califano Jr., president of the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University. The center conducted the two-year, $1 million study of drug use in Olympic sports.The report recommends creating an international organization, independent of the IOC, that would be responsible for drug testing and banning substances.The World Anti-Doping Agency, established after an IOC-sponsored drug summit in 1999, is headed by Dick Pound, an IOC vice president.The report concludes that the immense amount of money poured into the Olympics, conflicting priorities among the sports federations and the lack of an effective policing system, ``create an environment that encourages doing anything -- including doping -- to win.''Estimates of the prevalence of doping among Olympic athletes vary widely, CASA Director Susan Foster said. While the IOC and other sports organizations say fewer than 3 percent of athletes test positive for banned substances, some coaches and athletes place that proportion as high as 90 percent in sports like track and field, swimming and weight lifting.Pound, at Olympic meetings in Sydney, said no one connected with the study had contacted either the IOC or the anti-doping agency for comments or explanation. He said the figure of 90 percent of athletes using drugs seemed ``wildly high.''``It's U.S. based, it's historical, it's way behind the times,'' Pound said Saturday (Friday night EDT). ``It seem to be unaware that WADA exists and has been conducting out-of-competition tests, that we've got an EPO test, that there is an independent agency. ... I don't know if it's hypocritical or uninformed or what.``Scientifically, if only as a matter of courtesy, they probably should have checked with somebody. As a matter of scientific method, they definitely ought to have, unless they are just talking about the United States.''Jacques Rogge, vice chairman of IOC medical commission, said he had not read the report but that disagreed that the committee was soft on doping and said U.S. sports had to clean up their own drug problems.``We know we are not perfect on the IOC. We're fighting hard,'' Rogge said. ``I believe before giving lessons you have to be impeccable yourself. ... Unilaterally attacking the IOC, without admitting their own errors and shortcomings, I think is not very fair.''Barry McCaffrey, President Clinton's drug policy adviser, said he doesn't believe most athletes use drugs and recent efforts to keep the 2000 Olympics drug-free had been making progress.He noted the results of the stepped-up testing in Sydney. China announced this week it cut 27 athletes from its squad, including a number who had failed drug tests. Athletes from Canada and the Czech Republic also were banned for drug use.``Some claim these busts are a scandal. In fact, they are exactly the right signal that the Olympics and the international community mean business,'' said McCaffrey, whose office funded the study.The report also recommends an international research effort of up to $100 million to develop better drug tests and ``doping passports'' to document an athlete's testing history.The report said that scientists interviewed by the commission said their attempts to develop tests for banned substances ``were stymied by late decisions and a seeming lack of will at the highest levels of the IOC.''On the Net:National Commission on Sports and Substance Abuse: of National Drug Control Policy: http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.govInternational Olympic Committee: http://www.olympic.orgWashington (AP) Published: September 8, 2000Source: New York Times (NY)Copyright: 2000 The New York Times CompanyContact: letters nytimes.comAddress: 229 West 43rd Street, New York, NY 10036Fax: (212) 556-3622Website: Articles:Olympics-Remove Pot From Banned List, Says Doctor Report Will Criticize I.O.C. on Drugs Czar Ruffles IOC Feathers Czar Changes Tune On IOC Testing 
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