New Illegal Substances Fuelling Sports Cheats, Says Reedie

Craig Reedie

According to the head of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), a big number of new illegal substances are fueling an increase in incidents of sports doping and "smarter" testing techniques are needed to catch cheats.

WADA president Craig Reedie added that China is the source of many of the new drugs despite efforts by the Chinese authorities to clampdown. In the recent past, a fresh spotlight on international efforts to stop drug cheats has been casted by looming sanctions against the Tour de France winning Astana cycling team and new allegations of widespread doping in Russia. Reedie said the battle is far from won despite the WADA introducing a new code with tougher sanctions on January 1 this year.

Reedie also remarked an enormous number of unknown, untested substances appear on the market on a very regular basis. The WADA President added the internet is a wonderful, wonderful benefit to mankind but it means you can pick up whatever you want from practically anywhere before we even know that it is on the market. He also said the scale of the problem is not getting any smaller and added that a lot of it comes from China, for example. The WADA chief said we have discussions with the Chinese authorities at the very highest level and they understand the issue, but it is a real struggle for a country to manage that process.

According to experts, anabolic androgenic steroids and erythropoietin (EPO) blood boosters are all produced in backstreet factories in China and other Asian countries. These countries are also producing new drugs to cover up performance enhancing substances.

Reedie urged all countries must step up efforts and said he really thinks we need to move on from the standard way of detection which is the analysis of blood and urine. Craig Reedie also added that we need to be smarter and we need to do it better because quite honestly we haven't been able to completely eradicate the problem using the systems that we currently use. Commenting on the recently-introduced WADA Code, Reedie said he thinks there will be some interesting legal debate probably on appeals on some of the terms of the higher sanctions -- the business of intent, what does that actually mean. Reedie said many athletes had been at the forefront of calls for tougher punishment for doping athletes and remarked many of them wanted life bans, but that's not proportionate.

Reedie added a ban of four years, that is twice what the maximum was, and our advice was that would be proportionate whereas a life ban would probably be challenged in court right away. He went on to remark that there must be no criminal action against athletes. WADA backs proposals by countries such as Germany to criminalize doping. Reedie said we are very comfortable with legislation that allows investigations, we are comfortable with legislation that hits at traffickers and allows organizations to deal with the entourage if they have been wrong but said what we do not want is criminal law in any country to apply to an athlete that would apply for example a custodial sentence.

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