LONDON — The United States and four other countries have joined forces in an effort to improve drug testing standards around the world.
The Institute of National Anti-doping Organization has been established by the United States, Australia, Britain, Canada and Norway. Twenty-four nations attended the first INADO meeting last month and the search for a chief executive begins next month as the organization expands.
Leaders of the fledgling advocacy group insist they are not establishing a rival to the World Anti-Doping Agency, but trying to ensure nations speak with a unified voice as the WADA code is reviewed.
"There are common practices and rules that we see as the front line of defense to protect sport that I think we all share," U.S. Anti-Doping Agency chief executive Travis Tygart told The Associated Press on Thursday. "We obviously as NADOS (national anti-doping organizations) are in the unique position, different from sport — our first priority is the integrity of sport and protecting the clean athletes that compete in sport."
WADA is asking its members to submit proposed amendments to the code, which sets out harmonized drug-testing rules and sanctions across all sports and countries, by March 15, 2012.
"There has not been a consistent single voice speaking on whether it's policy issues or other issues relating to the WADA code," Tygart said in a telephone interview. "We all thought it was critical to have an advocacy group on behalf of clean athletes."
Britain, which is initially running INADO, wants to help countries strengthen testing procedures where they are lacking and put pressure on nations potentially lacking the willpower to root out doping athletes.
"There's got to be some certainty that actually if you are competing in a sport, you are competing fairly and the other people with you are competing fairly," U.K. Anti-Doping chairman David Kenworthy said. "One of the ways to do that is to get all national anti-doping organizations up to the same level ... and to help those countries that are struggling."
For Kenworthy, a former chief constable with a 35-year career in law enforcement, it is about creating a level playing field.
"Our athletes go to country and say it's ridiculous and say 'No one is tested there or the tests are very perfunctory,' whereas here they know they have an established system," Kenworthy said at UKAD's headquarters in London. "They say, 'We have a worry that people cheat in that country.' So the incentive is for countries — countries don't like to be seen as failures just like individuals don't like to be seen as failures ...
"Some though just don't have the finances, don't have resources to do it. If you are trying to feed your nation, then actually the last thing you really going to be worried about is doping athletes. It is a question of priorities."
Then there are those countries, Britain, believes are intentionally avoiding getting tough on cheats.
"The bigger issue we can see is for nations, we aren't going to mention ... the ones that have the resources that just don't want to do it," UKAD chief executive Andy Parkinson said. "So there are the haves, the have-nots that want do it and then there are the actual ones that are paying lip service to it and that I suppose is the bigger concern for our athletes and I suppose for WADA."
Parkinson hopes the WADA code is "enhanced rather than dismantled" in 2013.
"There is a fear that's because it's hard to implement it needs to be changed and simplified," he said. "That's not our view at all ... we need to make further improvements and adjustments."
The code, which first went into force in 2004, is reviewed every few years. The current two-year review period will conclude with adoption of a revised code at the next world anti-doping conference in Johannesburg in November 2013.