London: Olympic leaders will meet on May 21 to discuss the World Anti-Doping Agency's role in fighting performance-enhancing drugs and ways to combat illegal betting and match-fixing. The meeting at International Olympic Committee headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, was arranged after international sports federations complained of deteriorating relations with WADA.
IOC director general Christophe De Kepper told The Associated Press the meeting will be attended by 20-25 people, including officials from summer and winter federations, national Olympic committees, athletes and the four IOC vice presidents. The group will discuss "issues of common interest," including WADA, betting, the sports calendar and independence of sports bodies, he said.
The focal point will be relations with WADA, which the IOC set up in 1999 to lead the global anti-doping fight. The IOC and Olympic movement provide 50 percent of WADA's annual budget. The meeting was formally requested by Francesco Ricci Bitti, head of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations, which represents the 26 sports in the games.
"Relations with WADA have deteriorated significantly and the lack of help and support from WADA against a background of constant media criticism of its sports 'partners' and the consequent breakdown of trust need to be addressed as a priority," Ricci Bitti, an Italian who is president of the International Tennis Federation, said in a letter last month to IOC President Jacques Rogge.
The scandal that led to Lance Armstrong being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles for systematic doping triggered a public feud between WADA and the UCI, cycling's governing body and a member of ASOIF. WADA has also singled out football and tennis for not doing enough testing.
IOC and sports federation officials have expressed irritation with recent public statements by WADA President John Fahey. They have also noted that nearly $500 million is spent each year on doping controls with relatively few athletes being caught in the tests.
WADA's current annual budget is $26 million, with $13 million provided by the Olympic movement and the other half by governments. Still to be determined is who will succeed Fahey, whose six-year term as WADA chief expires at the end of 2013.
The WADA presidency alternates between the Olympic movement and governments. Fahey, a former Australian finance minister, succeeded IOC member Dick Pound as WADA president in 2007 as the representative of governments.
The IOC is scheduled to nominate the next WADA president at the world doping summit in November in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Another main topic of the May meeting will be illegal betting, which Rogge has repeatedly warned is as big a threat to sport as doping and a key element in the scourge of match-fixing.
De Kepper said the IOC will hold separate talks in Lausanne on May 14 with government officials and betting company operators to follow up on previous meetings to coordinate efforts against betting corruption.
The IOC has monitored betting patterns at the last three Olympics, but found nothing irregular.