Pissing in the jar set to rock athletics world for a little while longer

The numbing world of drugs is nearly as boring as Christmas shopping

Thomas Bach, the new IOC president, is in Johannesburg warning countries that don’t meet Wada compliance of a potential ban from future Olympics.

Thomas Bach, the new IOC president, is in Johannesburg warning countries that don’t meet Wada compliance of a potential ban from future Olympics.

Sat, Nov 16, 2013, 06:00

Only 39 more shopping days to Christmas! If like me you’d sooner chew your own leg off than be trapped in that world then spare a thought for the large crowd of people stuck inside the Sandton Convention Centre in downtown Johannesburg since Tuesday.

They’ve been trapped in the equally numbing world of drugs in sport, only without the glittering lights. And just like the premature jingle bells, nothing sounds more tiresome right now than talk of missed tests and dodgy samples and what needs to be done to level the playing field. It will never go away but has it ever been more consuming of our precious sporting copy?

Indeed, instead of me talking about the hardy souls of cross country running or why some athletes risk everything for nothing in the truly honest sense it’s back to the same old talk of pissing in the jar.

The good news is that some things are about to change, although for better or for worse only time will tell. What all those doping specialists present in Johannesburg for the Fourth World Conference on Doping in Sport have just agreed is the new code of the World Anti-Doping Agency - better known now as Wada: so, from January 1st, 2015, there will be an increase in the standard ban for doping offences from two to four years, while national sporting federations can plan for more intelligence-based testing programmes, and place more emphasis on testing profiles. The other change is that Wada itself gets more authority to punish countries not complying with these basic anti-doping procedures.

Also decided in Johannesburg is a new Wada president, the veteran British Olympic administrator Craig Reedie – who’s given the thankless task of filling the shoes of outgoing president John Fahey. I met Fahey in Dublin earlier this year, looking like a broken man in a broken world, and now Reedie comes in at a time when Wada’s own credibility is being questioned almost as much as some of the dodgy doping practices they are meant to be policing. Why, for example, did it take them so long to book a flight to Kingston?

Wada budget
Then there is the Wada budget, currently set at around $27 million (or €20 million) a year – with a one per cent increase for 2014. That’s peanuts compared to what is needed to run an effective worldwide anti-doping programme, and despite repeated calls for sponsorship and media revenue to chip in with something, the poverty regime looks set to continue. Part of the argument there is that Wada might lose some autonomy by accepting corporate finance, yet the reality is Wada never had nor never will have complete independence, even if it was first set up, in 1999, with that in mind. It will always depend on some cooperation and support, not just from the countries but also the individual sports it is charged with policing.

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