By David Owen

Qatar has pledged $1 million to WADA’s Anti-Doping Research Fund ©Getty ImagesQatar, controversial winner of the race to stage the 2022 FIFA World Cup, has become the seventh contributor to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)'s embryonic fund for new anti-doping research, carrying it to within touching distance of its $20 million (£12 million/€16 million) target.

The Gulf state's $1 million (£640,000/€800,000) contribution takes to $9.27 million (£5.90 million/€7.45 million) the aggregate sum now pledged to the fund by the seven countries - China, the United States, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, New Zealand and Qatar.

The fund was initiated last year with a $10 million (£6 million/€8 million) commitment from International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach.

Because of WADA's structure - the agency is funded broadly 50 per cent by the IOC and 50 per cent by Governments - this proposed IOC investment must be matched by public authorities if it is to be released in full as planned.

Sir Craig Reedie, WADA's President, said: "Qatar is a nation passionate about sport, and in pledging to commit to anti-doping research, they have signalled their intent to prioritise the rights of clean athletes worldwide.

"On behalf of the entire anti-doping community, I would like to extend my thanks to the Emir of the State of Qatar [and IOC member], His Highness Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani; the Prime Minister of Qatar, His Excellency Sheikh Abdullah Bin Nasser Bin Khalifa Al-Thani; and the secretary general of the National Olympic Committee of Qatar, His Excellency Sheikh Saoud Bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani for their country's strong commitment to clean sport."

Sheikh Saoud Bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said it is an honour to pledge Qatar's support to the Anti-Doping Research Fund ©Getty ImagesSheikh Saoud Bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said it is an honour to pledge Qatar's support to the Anti-Doping Research Fund ©Getty Images

Sheikh Saoud said: "Qatar is first and foremost a sporting nation.

"We are absolutely committed to upholding the fundamental values of sport and fighting against doping to ensure a clean future of sport in which drug use plays no part.

"It is an honour to pledge our support to the Anti-Doping Research Fund.

"Qatar will continue to work hard to carry out testing, education and research for doping in sport through our state-of-the-art Anti-Doping Laboratory Qatar, the first specialised laboratory if its kind in the Middle East, and through our work with WADA and with the IOC."

Qatar, a tiny state whose vast wealth, stemming from its equally vast natural gas resources, has helped it to become in recent years one of the world's most prominent hosts of international sporting events, last week secured another triumph - winning the right to stage the 2019 International Association of Athletics Federations World Championships.

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