WADA seeks IOC help to collect dues from US, other countries

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      WADA seeks IOC clout to collect dues

      The United States could wind up marching into the Athens Olympics without the Stars and Stripes if it doesn’t come up with the money it pledged to the World Anti-Doping Agency, according to WADA chief Richard Pound.

      Pound, a Montreal lawyer, said in telephone conference yesterday that he is pursuing the International Olympic Committee to add its clout to the antidoping effort by instituting sanctions at the Olympic Games level against countries that don’t pay their dues to the drug-fighting agency.

      The drug watchdog has collected only 65 per cent of its $20-million (U.S.) budget from governments for 2003, and the dues for 2004 are supposed to be paid by the end of this year.

      The sanctions Pound seeks would include banning the national flags of deadbeat countries and making them ineligible to be hosts to Olympic Games. At risk is New York’s bid for the 2012 Summer Olympics. Rio de Janiero is another candidate city from a country that hasn’t paid up. Italy is a third deadbeat, but Turin has the Winter Games for 2006. Canada has paid $400,000 of its 2003 fees.

      “We’re asking the IOC about what actions it’s prepared to take,” Pound said. “It ranges from no accreditations for government officials, to denial of the right to use that national flag in opening and closing ceremonies and medal presentations.”

      IOC president Jacques Rogge has already indicated that in the IOC’s next general session, there will be amendments to the Olympic charter stating that countries that have not adopted WADA’s antidrug code could not be candidates for Games host.

      Pound said the United States will be given an extended deadline for its payment until June 30.

      But he is frustrated with trying to get the antidoping movement taken seriously at the governmental level.

      “We’ve been told all year by the White House we’d be getting a million dollars this year, which we said was not enough and does not conform with the formula agreed upon with the Americas,” he said. “Then today I got a letter from some junior employee in the White House saying even the $1-million is not there. It’s only going to be $800,000.”

      And there’s no indication whether any WADA dues for 2004 are in the White House budget.

      “There’s a complete vacuum and void there as far as we’re concerned,” Pound said. “Our sense is they’re not the slightest bit interested in this issue.”

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