By Nick Butler

The RADO Conference in Almaty has been used as a platform to highlight Kazakhstan's anti-doping focus ©Almaty 2022A Regional Anti-Doping Organisation (RADO) Conference in Almaty has been used as a platform to show Kazakhstan's commitment to tackling doping problems, a factor which could potentially derail the nation's bid for the 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Following the withdrawal of Kraków after an unsuccessful referendum on Sunday (May 26), Almaty is one of four cities still in the race for the Games in 2022, with opposition coming from Beijing, Lviv and Oslo.

While the Kazakhstan city has performed strongly so far and is emerging as the favourite, they have identified failure to tackle a doping problems as a factor that has impacted strongly on various failed bids in recent times.

It was cited as a key reason for Tokyo's victory over both Istanbul and Madrid in the 2020 contest last September, after concerns with regard to the approach of the latter two cities were raised by International Olympic Committee (IOC) members during the Session in Buenos Aires, where the final decision was made.

Although Kazakhstan's record is not significantly worse than others, in 2007 one of the countries most successful athletes, cyclist Alexander Vinokourov, was caught blood doping during the Tour de France and banned from the sport for two years, while his Kazakh-based Astana team were also withdrawn from the race.

Vinokourov returned to win the Olympic road race title at London 2012 before retiring.

Alexander Vinokourov was removed from the 2007 Tour de France after being implicated in a doping scandal ©Getty ImagesAlexander Vinokourov was removed from the 2007 Tour de France after being implicated in a doping scandal ©Getty Images

Organised by the Republic of Kazakhstan Agency of Sport and Physical Culture in conjunction with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) the conference aimed to bring about improvements in the development of anti-doping programmes, as well as training for the processing of doping test results by doping control specialists.

This follows the setting up of the RADO organisation for eight countries in Central Asia in Tehran in 2006, before the headquarters moved to Almaty in April 2013.

Among those in attendance was Rob Koehler, the 
WADA director of education and programme development, Kazuhiro Hayashi, head of the WADA Asian Office, and Nadia Al Shamali, director of the Anti-Doping Department at the Olympic Council of Asia.

Various figures from Kazakhstan were also present, including the secretary general of the National Olympic Committee of the Republic of Kazakhstan Timur Dossymbetov, and the deputy chairman of the Kazakhstan Agency of Sport and Physical Culture Elsiyar  Kanagatov, who provided the opening address.

The two-day conference attracted delegates from across Central Asia ©Almaty 2022The two-day conference attracted delegates from across Central Asia
©Almaty 2022

After thanking WADA for their support of anti-doping in the region, Kanagatov emphasised that the "protection and promotion of a fair sport is an ongoing global challenge that requires cross-sectoral cooperation and actions on the international level".

He added: "So, now it is necessary to develop and integrate appropriate response measures to minimise the threat imposed by different and changing forms of doping.

"Developed sport infrastructure in our country allows taking deserved places in international sport events." 

Kanagatov highlighted that, with Kazakhstan hosting 29 international competition in 2014, this is particular important, before citing the Almaty bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics as another important reason for tackling the problem.

"Increasing success in sport, unfortunately, brings 'the other side' to light," he admitted.

"Kazakhstan also face doping problems and in 2013, some athletes did not pass doping-controls at the big international competitions.

"This is another strong motivation for strengthening measures of anti-doping programme in our country."

Among other items discussed was an effective plan for the revision of the anti-doping rules in the RADO Central Asia countries-members under the new World Anti-Doping Code, which was adopted at the World Conference against Doping in Sport in Johannesburg in October 2013, and is due to come into force on January 1, 2015.

At the end of the conference, a resolution was adopted with the aim is to strengthen the actions of anti-doping control and promotion of educational programs in the region.

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