Commonwealth Games bolsters anti-doping efforts

The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) will step up efforts to combat doping at next year’s edition of the multi-sport event on the Gold Coast in Australia by collecting samples and storing them for long-term testing.

According to the Reuters news agency, the CGF will work with the Gold Coast 2018 local organising committee to establish a pre-Games taskforce to test athletes prior to their arrival in the country.

The CGF and Gold Coast 2018 will also collaborate with the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency (ASADA) to both collect and share intelligence with law enforcement, in order to support further investigation of the possession and trafficking of banned substances.

“Athletes deserve a fair, legitimate and level playing field,” CGF president Louise Martin said in a statement. “This is why I am determined that the CGF and its Medical Commission will play a lead role in the fight against doping in sport.”

Confirmation of the enhanced plan comes after a number of Commonwealth countries were criticised over their drug testing programmes. Both Kenya and Jamaica have been ordered to improve their respective setups to bring them in line with World anti-Doping Agency (Wada) standards.

Judith Lind, chief executive of ASADA, said: “Given recent international events, the 2018 Commonwealth Games provide a watershed moment … to raise the bar for anti-doping programmes and restore athletes and supporters faith in fair competition.

“The decision to tank all samples for the first time in Commonwealth Games history shows our commitment to a high-integrity games, and to the protection of clean athletes the world over.”

The Australian government has already declared its support for the anti-doping initiative, pledging an additional A$1.5m (€1m/U$1.2m) to help fund testing.  

Greg Hunt, Australia's Minister for Health and Sport, recently said: “Australians do not tolerate cheats, plain and simple. That is why this Government committed A$1.5m in funding to support additional testing of both Australian and international athletes in the lead up to the Games.

“This partnership will go a long way to giving confidence to the thousands of athletes and fans who deserve a level playing field in 2018.”