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US Not Taking Athletic Doping Issue Seriously, says WADA Chief - 2003-11-18

The head of the World Anti-Doping Agency, WADA, says the Bush administration is not taking the fight against performance-enhancing drugs seriously. The U.S. government has not paid its WADA dues and that could result in sanctions against the U.S. team at the 2004 Olympics.

WADA Chief Dick Pound said in a conference call Tuesday that the U.S. government has not paid the million dollars in dues it has promised for this year.

Mr. Pound said a junior White House drug office employee said the United States will provide only $800,000, instead of the full amount. Senior White House officials have been unavailable for comment.

Payment of the funds is being held up by the debate in Congress over passage of the federal budget. Pound said that non-payment could result in sanctions against the U.S. Olympic team, which could come while several high-profile U.S. athletes are facing doping charges.

"It's all the more inexplicable as you look at the difficulties affecting USA Track and Field, the THG issues, the modafinil issues," he said. "I would have thought that the litmus paper would have changed color at the White House, but it has not."

Mr. Pound said that the International Olympic Committee could also refuse accreditation to U.S. government officials for the Athens Games and prohibit use of the national flag at opening and closing ceremonies and at medal ceremonies.

The WADA chief made the statements just before the anti-doping organization starts three days of meetings in Montreal. The meetings comes against the background of recent revelations about athletes using the designer steroid THG. Several U.S. track athletes and National Football League players have tested positive for the drug.