Spain about to re­store WADA com­pli­ance with new dop­ing laws

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

Spain is about to get back in the fight against dop­ing.

With po­lit­i­cal sta­bil­ity fi­nally re­stored, the coun­try is again in po­si­tion to be­come com­pli­ant with the World Anti-Dop­ing Agency, nearly eight months af­ter it was sus­pended be­cause of in­ad­e­quate dop­ing leg­is­la­tion.

Span­ish au­thor­i­ties say they have ev­ery­thing in place to ap­prove the law changes that will al­low the na­tion to abide by WADA's re­vised global anti-dop­ing code.

WADA de­clared Spain "non­com­pli­ant" this year af­ter the coun­try failed to adapt its leg­is­la­tion be­cause it couldn't form a govern­ment fol­low­ing two in­con­clu­sive elec­tions that prompted a po­lit­i­cal dead­lock which lasted nearly 10 months.

The coun­try's po­lit­i­cal par­ties fi­nally reached an agree­ment to end the stale­mate last month, and Wed­nes­day is the first day in which the par­lia­ment can start work­ing on new leg­is­la­tion. Of­fi­cials guar­an­tee that it's only a mat­ter of time be­fore the re­quired changes are ap­proved and the na­tion re­gains WADA com­pli­ance.

The coun­try's top govern­ment sports of­fi­cial, Miguel Car­de­nal, said that the leg­is­la­tion changes are "ready" and just wait­ing for ap­proval.

Spain's anti-dop­ing agency said that the ne­go­ti­a­tions to have the changes made had al­ready been con­ducted even be­fore the po­lit­i­cal im­passe was re­solved, leav­ing ev­ery­thing in place for a quick ap­proval by the par­lia­ment.

"(The changes) are im­por­tant to as­sure that our ath­letes are sub­jected to the same rules as any other ath­lete in the world," said En­rique Gomez Bastida, di­rec­tor of Spain's anti-dop­ing agency. "It's fun­da­men­tal that there are no dif­fer­ences be­tween the rules in which ath­letes have to fol­low in their coun­tries and the ones ap­plied by their re­spec­tive in­ter­na­tional fed­er­a­tion."

There has been no timetable set by the govern­ment, but the new leg­is­la­tion could come into ef­fect in a mat­ter of weeks.

The changes would make a greater num­ber of in­frac­tions pun­ish­able, al­low for harsher sanc­tions and ex­tend the statute of lim­i­ta­tion for vi­o­la­tions.

"WADA looks for­ward to re­ceiv­ing draft leg­is­la­tion from Spain at the ear­li­est op­por­tu­nity, so that we can check whether it is in line with the code," WADA spokesman Ben Ni­chols said. "Once such leg­is­la­tion is deemed to be in line with the code, it has to be adopted and the in­de­pen­dent com­pli­ance re­view com­mit­tee will then be in a po­si­tion to re-as­sess the sit­u­a­tion and make a rec­om­men­da­tion (re­gard­ing code com­pli­ance) to the foun­da­tion board."

Not long af­ter Spain was de­clared non-com­pli­ant in March, WADA also sus­pended the ac­cred­i­ta­tion of the Madrid drugtest­ing lab, deal­ing an­other blow to the coun­try which has long been un­der scru­tiny be­cause of dop­ing.

Ear­lier this year, a Span­ish court ruled that blood bags that were key ev­i­dence in Oper­a­tion Puerto, one of the na­tion's worst dop­ing scan­dals, had to be handed over to au­thor­i­ties for in­ves­ti­ga­tion, a ma­jor win 10 years af­ter the rev­e­la­tion about the dop­ing net­work in­volv­ing some of the world's top cy­clists.

Sev­eral ath­letes, in­clud­ing Rafael Nadal, had been crit­i­ciz­ing the de­lay to hand over the bags, say­ing the lack of clo­sure on the case fur­ther dam­aged the coun­try's im­age in the fight against dop­ing.

The pres­i­dent of the Span­ish Olympic Com­mit­tee, Ale­jan­dro Blanco, crit­i­cized lo­cal of­fi­cials ear­lier this year for not be­ing able to ap­prove the nec­es­sary changes needed for Spain to com­ply with WADA's re­vised code. He said other coun­tries also en­dured po­lit­i­cal prob­lems but were able to make the changes and be­come com­pli­ant.

WADA's anti-dop­ing code was re­vised in 2015 to give the agency more power in the fight against dop­ing.

Crit­ics have ac­cused Reedie of hav­ing a con­flict of in­ter­est in his IOC and WADA roles. In ad­di­tion to WADA pres­i­dent, he was an IOC vice pres­i­dent and mem­ber of the rule-mak­ing ex­ec­u­tive board un­til the Rio Games. How­ever, Reedie's term as vice pres­i­dent and board mem­ber has ex­pired, and he is now a reg­u­lar IOC mem­ber with­out a pol­icy-mak­ing role.

The IOC ex­ec­u­tive board of­fered its sup­port for Reedie's con­tin­ued role but only af­ter he promised to "re­spect the rules and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of WADA and its stake­hold­ers." That sug­gested the IOC wants to make sure WADA will re­frain in the fu­ture from pub­licly call­ing for a na­tion to be barred from the Olympics, as it did with Rus­sia be­fore the games in Rio de Janeiro.

The two sides fell out be­fore and dur­ing the Rio Games fol­low­ing a re­port by WADA in­ves­ti­ga­tor Richard McLaren that de­tailed state-spon­sored dop­ing in Rus­sia, in­clud­ing ma­nip­u­la­tion of sam­ples at the 2014 Sochi Win­ter Games and cover-ups of pos­i­tive tests across dozens of sum­mer and win­ter Olympic sports.

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