The under-fire World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) has received a welcome and critically-timed vote of confidence from 19 European Sports Ministers.
In an informal statement initiated by Denmark, the Ministers underlined their support for WADA and called on other parties in the fight against doping to make sure that they are fulfilling their own responsibilities to the fullest extent.
The statement will act as a fillip for Sir Craig Reedie, WADA’s President, at a time when the Olympic Movement is increasingly at loggerhaeads over the handling of the Russian doping crisis.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach yesterday used his first Rio 2016 media conference to try to heap blame for the crisis on WADA.
The issue has ratcheted up tensions in the Movement to a high level with just days to go before the start of Rio 2016.
WADA’s traditional pre-Olympics media conference has been scrapped, though Sir Craig is expected to respond to those who appear to be seeking to undermine him during this week’s IOC Session.
The new ministerial statement reads as follows:
“We, the ministers responsible for sport in the following countries: Austria, Belgium (the three Communities of Belgium), Bulgaria, Croatia, The Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Sweden and United Kingdom, while respecting the autonomy of the sports movement, and in relation to recent events, consider it important to restate our support for the work of the World Anti-Doping Agency in the global fight against doping in sport and our support for the rights of clean athletes to perform in a doping-free environment."
The statement continued: “Doping continues to be one of the biggest threats to the integrity of sport and, in this context, we call upon all States Parties that have signed the UNESCO International Convention against Doping in Sport to fully, through evidence, comply with the Convention’s requirements.
“Furthermore, we call upon all relevant sports organisations to use their existing rules and regulations to fully comply with their obligations in line with the World Anti-Doping Code; to proactively promote initiatives and measures to protect the integrity of sport, the credibility of WADA and the vast majority of clean athletes performing to their maximum potential without the use of prohibited performance enhancing methods or substances."
Bertel Haarder, the Danish Sports Minister, said he was “satisfied that so many European countries are standing together to fight against doping and have agreed on a joint statement in this regard”.
He went on: “The statement sends a strong signal and recalls that all states parties having signed the UNESCO Convention against doping in sport should fulfil the obligations in the convention.”
Governments provide approximately 50 per cent of WADA’s funding, with the IOC providing the other 50 per cent.