WADA, drug companies work against doping

Published 2:08 am Wednesday, July 7, 2010

GENEVA — The World Anti-Doping Agency signed an accord with a group representing pharmaceutical companies on Tuesday to formally cooperate in catching athletes who use performance-enhancing drugs.

The agreement will see drug companies provide the anti-doping body with information on products that can be used to boost sporting ability, WADA and industry group IFPMA said.

Companies developing new drugs will also try to minimize the potential misuse of their medicines and help establish doping tests as new products come onto the market, they said.

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But the agreement signed at a meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, stresses that all cooperation by drug companies will be voluntary.

“I don’t think you can compel a private company to engage with you, so it has to be voluntary,” said David Howman, director-general of WADA. He added, however, that the anti-doping body considers the accord a significant first step toward establishing more stringent agreements between WADA and drug companies.

One reason why companies had been wary of signing such agreements until now was because of concerns that information about their drugs could fall into the hands of competitors.

Howman told The Associated Press that the accord with IFPMA would act as a signal to companies that the Montreal-based agency can be trusted to keep their confidential information safe.

“It makes more sense if we have political signoff from the pharmaceutical industry in general,” he said.

Haruo Naito, chief executive of Japanese pharmaceutical firm Eisai Co. Ltd. and president of IFPMA, said future bilateral agreements between companies and WADA would be particularly valuable in ensuring that newly developed drugs aren’t misused for doping.