U.S. drug czar Barry McCaffrey yesterday criticized the International Olympic Committee's recently announced blueprint for an international anti-doping agency, calling the IOC proposal "inadequate," saying he was "not on board" and accusing the IOC of being "detached from reality."
Less than a week after the IOC announced that it was moving forward on establishing a nonprofit anti-doping agency that is intended to oversee worldwide drug-testing, McCaffrey said the IOC plans were unsatisfactory and that he intended to work with other nations -- and perhaps corporate sponsors -- to pressure the IOC into a stronger policy.
"We're dissatisfied," said McCaffrey, the White House drug control director who has attended all of the planning sessions organized by the IOC to draw up the anti-doping agency. "We think it's inadequate. It doesn't meet the criteria a bunch of us put on the table. . . . As we read the IOC proposal, it falls short of the mark. [The agency] is not independent, and there is not sufficient accountability."
IOC Director General Francois Carrard said the agency would be a non-profit foundation consisting of representatives from sporting organizations and governments worldwide. The IOC has offered to fund the first year of the organization with a $25 million donation. Carrard and Prince Alexandre de Merode, the IOC medical commission director, said unannounced drug tests and money for research would be among the agency's major concerns.
McCaffrey said yesterday that he and representatives of other nations are opposed to the plans.
"We're not on board," McCaffrey said. "I can assure you, the Australians are not on board, and I can assure you others aren't on board."
McCaffrey said the IOC has ignored his proposals, which include testing 365 days a year and saving athletes' urine samples from Olympic competitions (so those who take undetectable drugs can be identified once more sophisticated means of testing are discovered).
Anti-doping will be discussed further during a meeting of the European national drug control leaders in October in Lisbon and in November at an anti-doping conference in Sydney expected to be attended by 26 government representatives.
McCaffrey's remarks came after he helped kick off a national public education campaign to discourage the use of performance-enhancing drugs among America's youth. To launch the Blue Cross/Blue Shield-sponsored "Healthy Competition Campaign," a group of Washington area athletes signed a pledge that they would not take performance-enhancing drugs.
Scott Serata, the executive director and CEO of Blue Cross/Blue Shield, introduced the national initiative by saying the use of performance-enhancing drugs among children and teenagers has reached "crisis proportions." Besides encouraging children nationwide to adopt and sign the drug-free pledge, the plan also calls for increasing education about performance-enhancing drugs and applying steady pressure on the IOC.
Olympic gold medalists and acclaimed sports figures were in attendance yesterday as the initiative was launched. Donna de Varona, Edwin Moses, Frank Shorter, John Naber, Suzie McConnell Serio and Bruce Baumgartner lent their support.
"If we keep looking the other way, and taking little steps, we will keep having these scandals and our young people who take drugs will die early," said de Varona. " . . . We don't want to tarnish the image [of Olympic sports], but the image has turned into a lie, and it's compromised our young people."