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Wada chief spells out threats to sport

Dubai: The Director General of the World Anti-Doping Authority (Wada) has warned of the threat posed to the health of sport by elite athletes’ greedy hangers-on.

Addressing Gulf delegates at the opening of the 12th Regional Anti-Doping Organisation (Rado) Board Meeting and Workshop here, David Howman admitted that one of the biggest challenges today is to keep sports drug-free.

“The use of drugs in sports is a public health issue. There are steroids in our gyms and in our schools and the criminal underworld is fully involved,” Howman said in his opening remarks.

“Sport has witnessed tremendous growth in the past ten to 15 years and this has brought unwanted people in sport only keen on exploiting the situation and assisting in cheating.

“Basically, we are in a situation where there is greed and those around the athlete, the entourage, want to make money at the cost of the sportsman and the sport. Hence it is our job to ensure the rest of society gets involved.

“Today, a single sportsman can earn $100 million a year, while the annual budget of Wada is a mere $28 million. That puts things in the right perspective.”

Howman added: “The idea will be to keep things simple and the foremost will be to lay special emphasis on educating our youth on the values and integrity of sports.”

Dr Sultan Al Busaidi, Chairman of Rado, said: “This meeting comes at a very critical time as various bodies debate scheduled changes that will come into affect from next year. In this region we are committed to putting a system in place and our foremost challenge will always be to educate our athletes, committees, coaches and doctors in staying drug-free.”

The first day of the event was also attended by Ebrahim Abdul Malik, General Secretary for the General Authority of Youth and Sports Welfare (GAYSW), Robert Koehler, Deputy Director of Wada, and Nadia Al Shamali, Director General of Rado.