During a hearing on Capitol Hill yesterday, U.S. drug czar Barry McCaffrey reiterated his criticism of the International Olympic Committee's plan to launch a world anti-doping agency in January, but McCaffrey and the IOC abandoned the combative approach taken in earlier exchanges and agreed they probably could work together in anti-doping efforts.

In testimony to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, McCaffrey restated his charges that the IOC's plans for a world anti-doping agency were "unacceptable" because the proposed agency lacked full independence, transparency and accountability.

McCaffrey added that he hoped gaps could be bridged with the assistance of Henry Kissinger, the former secretary of state who is a member of the IOC's partially independent reform commission, and through discussions of the problem of performance-enhancing drugs in sport with other nations, particularly during a November anti-doping meeting in Australia attended by 26 countries.

"This is not heavy lifting," McCaffrey said during the hearing called by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). "It requires good science and an international cooperative effort. . . . I hope to go to [IOC President Juan Antonio] Samaranch with a consensus view. . . . I do believe we will get a response from the IOC."

IOC Vice President Richard Pound contended that the IOC's proposed anti-doping agency offered sufficient independence because, of its 24 members, only three would come from the IOC. (The IOC agency also calls for the inclusion of 3 national Olympic committee members, 3 international federation members, 3 athletes and 12 as-yet-to-determined members from the international community outside of sport.)

"One-eighth of the votes--that's pretty independent," Pound said.

Pound said he believed there was a role, as yet undetermined, for national government participation. He also said the IOC agreed with many of McCaffrey's proposals--with the exception, Pound said, of McCaffrey's call for the preservation of athletes' urine samples so that when tests for undetectable banned substances were eventually found, the samples could be retested. Pound said that plan was unworkable because of physical and legal problems associated with storing the samples for so long.

By the time Pound gave his remarks near the end of today's hearing, only one senator was in attendance--Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska). The others had departed because of other obligations.