New independent testing authority looks for clients
By Steve Keating
MONTREAL (Reuters) - The World Anti-Doping Agency's new Independent Testing Authority (ITA) will soon be open for business but is not sure how many clients it will get, anti-doping officials said on Thursday.
The International Olympic Committee will cover the startup cost for the ITA but after that it will operate on money generated from testing for international sports federations and major event organisers on a pay-as-you-go basis.
International federations (IF) will not be required to use the ITA and some, such as the International Association of Athletics Federations and world soccer's governing body FIFA, have already said they are not interested.
Even WADA secretary general Olivier Niggli was uncertain how many international federations will sign up, with many IFs expected to stay within national anti-doping programs.
"The (WADA) board has agreed on how this should be set up and the IOC who is going to have to provide the initial capital. When it is incorporated the (ITA) board will be appointed," Niggli told Reuters. "Then it is over, this board will run the entity and develop the work.
"It is not going to be mandatory so we will see how many IFs use these services."
Like WADA, the ITA will be set up as a Swiss foundation but based in Lausanne.
The board will be comprised of five members that will include an independent president, a representative from the IOC, an athlete, an independent expert and a member from an international federation.
The WADA executive committee will have the right of refusal.
"We have a say in the original board, the two positions we are most interested in are the independent chair and the independent expert, we want people who really know the business to run it," WADA chief Craig Reedie told Reuters. "First of all we create a Swiss Foundation and that can be done pretty quickly then you need to put a board in place and once that is done that organisation is ready for work.
"It is going to employ an existing anti-doping unit called the Doping Free Sport Unit so the day they open they will actually have the capacity to do some testing."
Reedie says he hopes the ITA will be up and operating before the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics next year.
(Editing by Toby Davis)