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Olympics Leadership Agrees To Cede More Anti-Doping Control To WADA

IAAF President Sebastian Coe, left, speaks with FIFA President Gianni Infantino at the opening of an Olympic Summit in Lausanne, Switzerland, Saturday. Olympic sports leaders are discussing how to improve a global anti-doping system amid the fallout of a Russian state-backed cheating scandal.

Saying that it's "an absolute priority for the entire Olympic Movement" to protect clean athletes, top officials from the International Olympic Committee and major sports federations are agreeing to relinquish more control over catching cheaters to the World Anti-Doping Agency.

That's the news from the Olympic Summit, a meeting of IOC executives and the leaders of international sporting federations and national organizing committees. It follows an Olympics season that was plagued with doping scandals and the hacking of athletes' medical records held by WADA.

From Geneva, Lisa Schlein reports for NPR's Newscast unit:

"IOC sporting leaders meeting behind closed doors in a luxury hotel in Lausanne have decided to distance themselves from the controversial doping issue: They are giving WADA more powers to oversee the testing program.

"The anti-doping agency is mainly a regulatory body, which compiles the list of banned substances. The IOC is proposing WADA have more control over national anti-doping agencies and that it should supervise national anti-doping programs. The court of Arbitration for Sport will decide on sanctions for athletes who cheat."

The IOC is also promising more money for WADA, saying that a financial boost would come from "the Olympic Movement" as well as from governments. But that money, the IOC says, will depend on WADA implementing some reforms — including a significant upgrade to its information security standards.

WADA's response to the IOC's announcement might best be described as lukewarm yet positive. The organization said it has its own proposals to consider — and noted that the topics overlap with the areas the IOC highlighted, from funding and governance to testing and consequences for cheating.

"It was encouraging to hear the sentiment expressed in today's Olympic Summit that echoes the consensus reached by other stakeholders to the effect that WADA must be given greater authority and regulatory powers," WADA President Craig Reedie said in a news release. "We will take these ideas forward with us into WADA's Foundation Board meeting on 20 November; at which, the process towards a 'roadmap' will be drawn up."

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