Canberra drops the ball on drug testing
email@example.com 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