Friday, 16 November 2007

Madrid SIX: overnight contemplations...

Stepping back a stride or two, taking a deep breath or two, is often the best way to absorb the events and statements of an afternoon WADAworld session... but first...

A royal welcome, via all the Spanish staff, to all the participants at any level, even we Observers, was best shown by the incredibly well-served banquet lunchen, featuring a Mediterranean pasta salad, pork tenderloin with mixed vegetables, a lovely Rioja (who could have predicted??), and a sweet chocolate mousse tarte...

At our table (N° 69 of some 140 arranged tables), several Delegates from the Federations, a Medical Director from another Federation, an international Arbitrator from CAS, a Portuguese journalist and Your Humble Narrator... suffice to say that our pluralistic interests meshed in a conversation that covered nearly all the hot issues, such as:

  • The Floyd Landis case, the Decision, the known 'persuasions' of the selected panelists;

  • The (easy to guess who led this topic's introduction?) lack of consistency in laboratory results, combined with the lack of results management;

  • How the world has changed, now that governments no longer endorse doping, as had been the case in the Cold War era, when the supremacy of ideology possessed political opponents purposefully forward in their inner quest to achieve the most Olympic gold medals;

  • How laboratories' budgets had boomed in the last four years, as drug-testing became the biggest growth industry since the advent of the commercial internet in the late 90s;

  • From our Federationists, the costs associated with conformity to the WADA-way.


Between French, English, Turkish, German, American, Portuguese, Australian, the discussions covered the globe.

The afternoon sessions began with a discussion of the Science and Medicine topics; the item du jour was the problem or concept of the Abbreviated Therapeutic Use Exemptions (ATUE), the Guidelines concerning those, and the Federations' reactions to those advancements.

Starting with the interventions, which were nearly unanimous as to the factors of cost that were overwhelming the smaller Federations. Two different participants advised that their human resources were spending up to fifty per cent of their time in filling out WADA documentation!

There has to be a better way, was suggested from the floor, and endorsed in person by Mr. Pound, outgoing President of WADA.

The Chairman of the Laboratory Sub-committee, Luis Horta, brought in the issues concerning the labs that WADA has accredited. Earlier in the fall of 2007, one laboratory, the Horseracing Forensic Lab of England, actually became the first WADA laboratory to disassociate itself, to dis-accredit itself, for purposes of formally commencing vital research towards nutritional supplements.

Addressing the meeting, a high official of the International Laboratory Accreditation Council (? = ILAC) announced, with great fanfare, the impending signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between WADA and ILAC, for the purposes of refining even further the WADA accreditation process.

Discussions of the rest of Thursday's session will have to wait, because a) there's a good wifi connection, and...

Richard Young, he of the Floyd Landis 'prosecution team', from the USA, is now addressing the room, about changes in the WADA Code.

I wonder which among us knew, that he had these two roles?

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ADDENDUM added Friday 16 November 2007:

A Delegate from Columbia requested consideration of how hematocrit levels must be adjudged based on better information as to those citizens, such as in Columbia, who have naturally high RBC counts.

The Delegate representing the Bobsledding Federation stridently observed that the imposition of the TUE documentation presented them with the onus of filling out details on these “unnecessary and legally invalid documents.”

Finishing on the ATUE/TUE situation, David Gerard of WADA acknowledged these troubling aspects, and discussed the three separate alternatives (note: should be found on WADA's website) that were circulated.

However, he noted that there was little preference shown, or 'no inferable clear preference', among the Signatories that had provided feedback. Without the figures having been published, it would appear that no alternative had collected more than 35 per cent approval.

He mentioned also, something that WADAwatch is still 'digesting', that they had taken into consideration, whether the Laboratory Accreditation process would evolve into a layered system...

If he was saying that the levels of certain labs, in evidence via litigation (such as, dare we say, the Floyd Landis case?), or via accreditation-maintenance Proficiency Testing (PT), may be relegated to the “B League” for labs, whose proficiencies may be limited to one testing aspect (eg: blood transfusion testing, or r-EPO tracking), this would be a welcome, rational, neutral and acceptable choice for the future benefit of a system that is becoming a strength for better or worse.

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