World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) executive Benjamin Cohen has been announced as director general of the new Independent Testing Authority (ITA).
Cohen (pictured) currently serves as director of Wada’s European regional office and International Federations (IFs) relations, but will now take a senior role at the new independent body that will provide doping controls and other services to IFs and Major Event Organisations (MEOs).
Prior to joining Wada, the Swiss official held various roles in the International Basketball Federation (Fiba), in the United Nations Office of Sport for Development and Peace in New York, and within European football’s governing body, Uefa.
The ITA is an independent not-for-profit Swiss foundation. It will provide anti-doping services to those IFs and MEOs that wish to delegate their anti-doping programmes to a body that operates independently from sports organisations and national interests.
The Doping-Free Sport Unit (DFSU) of the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF) will remain intact and become the operational nucleus of the ITA, ensuring the staff expertise required to provide anti-doping services under its new, independent governance structure.
At the ongoing winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is working with the GAISF DFSU to ensure that there is an independent overview of the anti-doping programme.
The establishment of the ITA was first discussed at the Olympic Summit held in October 2015 and confirmed by the IOC Executive Board in March 2017 as one of the principles to strengthen the global anti-doping system. The Foundation Board was then ratified by the Wada Executive Committee in October.
Former French Sports Minister Valérie Fourneyron was earlier confirmed as the independent chair of the body. Along with Fourneyron, World Archery and Turkish Olympic Committee president Uğur Erdener will serve as the IOC’s representative.
Representing the IFs will be Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF) president and former International Tennis Federation (ITF) leader Francesco Ricci Bitti. The IOC Athletes’ Commission representative will be Kirsty Coventry, a former swimmer who won two Olympic gold medals for Zimbabwe.
The ITA board’s independent member will be Prof. Dr Peijie Chen, who currently serves as president of the Shanghai Institute of Physical Education. The ITA will be dedicated to sports organisations, but will operate independently from sports.