WADA precedents ignored

ALISON KORN -- Special to Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:55 AM ET

The head of Canada's anti-doping agency scoffed at yesterday's historic report on performance-enhancing drugs in baseball, saying its recommendations offered nothing new.

Paul Melia, CEO of the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport, was unimpressed.

"It's a little bit of deja vu," said Melia, who runs the agency that tests Canadian amateur athletes. "Mitchell could have saved himself a little trouble just referring to the (1988) Dubin report. All the (same) recommendations were there."

The Dubin Inquiry report investigated disgraced Canadian Olympic sprinter Ben Johnson and the culture of doping in Canadian athletics at the time. Its recommendations included establishing an independent agency to do drug testing, ensuring that unannounced testing be carried out year-round.

To have such a system instituted in baseball would require changes to the Players' Association collective agreement that isn't set to expire until 2011.

'WEAKENS REPORT'

"This really weakens the report," Melia said. "Open that agreement up right now and address that issue."

Melia also disputed Mitchell's assertion that blood testing -- which can detect certain drugs that urine tests can't, such as Human Growth Hormone -- is impractical. It isn't. In fact the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) will conduct blood tests at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

What WADA does goes way beyond any of Mitchell's recommendations. And the fact that Mitchell didn't even mention WADA, whose anti-doping code has 200 countries and 60 sports as signatories -- was glaring.

Known as the gold standard of anti-doping, WADA's sanctions are perhaps unpalatable for baseball: Two years suspension after one positive test for steroids, a lifetime ban for the second.

"These four North American sports, basketball, baseball, hockey and football, are dinosaurs," Melia said. "They are head-in-the-sand and they want to treat this as a public relations issue. They want to this to go away."

Meanwhile, WADA chief Dick Pound criticized the report for offering what he called "an amnesty" to players who used steroids.

"These were not accidents, they were deliberate purchases of products known to be banned. There have to be consequences," he told Reuters.


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