Can­berra drops the ball on drug test­ing

The Gold Coast Bulletin - - NEWS - DRUG test­ing for ath­letes com­pet­ing in the Gold Coast Com­mon­wealth Games could be done over­seas as or­gan­is­ers look for a cheaper anti-dop­ing pro­gram.

Tues­day’s Fed­eral Bud­get was un­clear on how much fund­ing would be given to the Aus­tralian Sports Anti-Dop­ing Author­ity, which was last year al­lo­cated $1.5 mil­lion over two years to com­plete 750 tar­geted tests in the lead-up to the Games.

Or­gan­is­ers had hoped the Bud­get would pro­vide funds for an­other 800-900 tests re­quired dur­ing the event it­self.

How­ever a spokesman for Health Min­is­ter Greg Hunt yes­ter­day said as the Govern­ment had al­ready com­mit­ted $156 mil­lion for in­fra­struc­ture, $46 mil­lion for op­er­a­tional sup­port and $15.5 mil­lion to­wards Aus­tralian ath­letes, no new funds would be avail­able.

He said the $1.5 mil­lion al­lo­cated last year was still bud­geted but that any more fund­ing was the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the State.

All sports drug test­ing for Aus­tralia and New Zealand is done in a sin­gle lab in Syd­ney, op­er­ated by the Fed­eral Govern­ment, which would have to dou­ble its work­load for the du­ra­tion of the Games.

Games chair­man Peter Beattie, who with CE0 Mark Peters was in Mel­bourne yes­ter­day to pro­mote the event to Vic­to­ri­ans, said it could be up to $1 mil­lion cheaper to have the test­ing done in a city like Tokyo, which is pre­par­ing to host the 2020 Olympics.

“We want this to be a drugfree Games, this is about our rep­u­ta­tion around the world,” he said.

“The test­ing lab in Syd­ney charges like a wounded bull and is much more ex­pen­sive than what was in the bid book.

“We want to guar­an­tee we will get good value for money and, if pushed, we will have to go over­seas.”

Mr Peters said the co-op­er­a­tion be­tween Goldoc and all lev­els of Govern­ment had been “first class”, but the anti-dop­ing fund­ing was a stick­ing point.

“For a num­ber of years now the lab has been very ex­pen­sive and it’s be­come an is­sue for Aus­tralian sport,” he said.

Mr Beattie said Goldoc had not made for­mal in­quiries with over­seas test­ing fa­cil­i­ties but was con­fi­dent one of them could per­form the ser­vices if re­quired. He ac­knowl­edged there would be ship­ping costs and im­pacts on the tim­ing of test re­sults if the test­ing was done over­seas.

“I think all these things are solv­able,” he said.

Com­mon­wealth Games bosses Peter Beattie and Mark Peters at the MCG yes­ter­day with Ron Walker (cen­tre), who was chair­man of Mel­bourne 2006. Pic­ture: MARK STE­WART KATHLEEN SKENE

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