The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has defended the reformed “whereabouts” system which has attracted criticism from around the sports world.
“We haven’t heard a suggestion of anything better,” WADA director general David Howman told BBC Sport.
The basics of the system are that: “Athletes provide their national anti-doping organisation with a list of where they will be for one hour of every day over three months to enable the collection of random samples. Drugs testers arrive unannounced and should any individual fail to meet with them on three separate occasions over an 18-month period, a suspension could follow. Although the system has been in place for several years, the most recent guidelines have proved controversial for the greater demands they make on those being tested. In particular, Wada’s 2009 code specifies that:
- Athletes must be available seven rather than five days a week
- That they are present for the whole of the hour, not just part of it
- The times of day between which they can specify their location have also been restricted.
The tighter regulations have however met a mixed reaction from athletes and governing bodies, with Andy Parkinson (director of Drug-Free Sport) commenting that: “While I do have some sympathy for the fairly small number of athletes who are required to meet these requirements, I would think that it’s a small price to pay for clean athletes to help us drive cheats out of sport” he also added that “there is no doubt that whereabouts is intrusive, but as long as it’s proportionate to the risk of doping in sport then it has a very valid place. In fact, I’d go further than that and say it would be impossible for us to run a testing programme without knowing where the athletes are.”
However by contrast, Pete Gardner (Chief Executive of the British Athletics Commission (BAC)), has warned that the tougher regulations meant a number of British athletes would retire if they missed two tests rather than risk the possibility of a ban and the subsequent suspicion if they were absent on a third occasion. Gardner would not be drawn on which athletes have threatened to quit should they pick up two strikes…. but they are believed to include medal-winning members of Britain’s rowing squad.