World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) President Sir Craig Reedie has hailed international commitment to tackling sporting drugs problems after Djibouti became the fifth nation in the last three months to sign the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) International Convention against Doping in Sport.
The African country followed the path set by Kiribati, Honduras, Palestine and the Solomon Islands in recent weeks to mean that 182 states have now ratified the treaty, equating to 98 per cent of the world's population.
It is hoped the remaining 13 countries - Central African Republic, Guinea Bissau, Mauritania, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, South Sudan and Tanzania in Africa, as well as Niue in Oceania and Afghanistan, Laos, Lebanon, East Timor and Yemen in Asia - will follow suit soon.
"I am pleased that these four countries have now been joined by Djibouti," said Sir Craig, the Briton who is also a vice-president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
"This is a timely announcement, coming just over a week before the start of the 11th All-Africa Games.
"By committing to the Convention, Djibouti is sending the right message to its own athletes, as well as athletes across Africa and the entire world.
“I would like to commend Mr. Badoul Hassan Badoul, the Djibouti Minister of Youth and Sports, who has helped make this happen."
Adopted on October 19, 2005, the International Convention against Doping in Sport is the practical instrument by which Governments formalise their commitment to the fight against doping.
Because the political authorities in many countries cannot be bound by a non-Governmental document such as the World Anti-Doping Code, the Convention allows Governments to align their domestic policies with the Code, thus harmonising the rules governing anti-doping in sport and public legislation.
Under UNESCO standards, the Convention has reportedly set records in terms of the speed with which it was prepared, adopted and ratified.
But this comes at a highly sensitive time following a period of numerous doping allegations and convictions, including the claim in a documentary broadcast by German TV station ARD that up to 99 per cent of Russian athletes are involved in systematic doping.
Turkey and Kenya are among other signatures of the UNESCO Convention to have faced multiple cases in recent years.
In this context, there is a growing feeling in some quarters that criminalising doping could be the way forward, with moves underway to introduce such a measure in Germany and Kenya, although the idea has been strongly rejected by WADA and various other sporting officials.
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