The International Olympic Committee insisted Monday that its new drug agency would operate independently and that the United States was misguided in fearing a conflict of interest.
Barry McCaffrey, the White House's chief drug adviser, contended the new World Anti-Doping Agency was too closely linked to the IOC. The agency is run by IOC vice president Dick Pound and is temporarily based in Lausanne, Switzerland, the headquarters of the IOC.
"It looks to us as though it will be dominated by the IOC," McCaffrey said on the opening day of an international "Drugs in Sports" summit. "That, to us, is unacceptable."
But IOC vice president Kevan Gosper defended the agency before delegates from 26 nations attending the three-day summit, saying, "Contrary to some public criticism, its structure ensures that it is truly independent."
Gosper told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio: "I think that the United States has not really kept fully in touch with developments that have taken place."
McCaffrey also was criticized by Prince Alexandre de Merode, chairman of the IOC medical commission.
"Instead of insulting people, it is better to sit around the table and discuss," de Merode said in Brussels. "The reaction is hysterical and not constructive."
The IOC invited McCaffrey to Switzerland to meet with IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch regarding a "mutually agreed upon agenda." Samaranch is not attending the Sydney conference.
WADA will have representatives from sports organizations, including the IOC, on its board as well as government officials. The IOC will have four seats on the board, which can have up to 35 members.
John Coates, president of the Australian Olympic Committee, was angered by McCaffrey's criticism of the new drug agency. He called McCaffrey "no friend of the Olympic movement" and tried to have him banned from Sydney's 2000 Olympics complex.
But Australian government and Sydney authorities distanced themselves from Coates' comments.
McCaffrey is promoting a program for another kind of independent drug agency that would conduct year-round, no-notice testing for athletes.
Delegates are discussing the role they can play in the fight against drugs in sports. Among the topics to be discussed are international cooperation, testing regimens, drug trafficking and education.
Australian Sports Minister Jackie Kelly opened the conference by pledging nearly $1 million to fund research. The money is to create a test by next year for the performance-enhancing drug EPO.
"This summit marks the beginning of a new era in cooperation between governments and international sporting federations to crack down on 'tracksuit fraud' in order to protect the body and spirit of international sport," Kelly said.
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