"WADA does not have the infrastructure to actually conduct testing themselves. They don't have what we call 'Doping Control Officers' that specifically work for them to go out and perform the tests as USADA does. Typically what will happen if WADA was ever to decide they wanted to have somebody tested, they would work with the anti-doping organization in whichever country or area that that testing would be conducted by...I think it's really important to understand that WADA certainly oversees, internationally, the programs that happen, but the actual implementation of tests is usually conducted by the Anti-Doping Organizations for that country," stated Annie Skinner, Media Relations Manager of the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), who gave us details on how USADA works on behalf of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in order to conduct the international anti-doping policies and procedures created by the organization. What may come as a surprise to some, WADA does not actually implement their own testing policies, but instead they utilize the many different anti-doping agencies in each nation to conduct their international standards for testing. Check out what else she had to say regarding USADA's relationship with WADA and how it relates to Bob Arum's recent comments regarding Olympic-style random drug testing.
BT: Hi Annie. I was wondering if you might have a few minutes to answer some questions regarding USADA testing procedures and how they relate to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
AS: Sure, yeah, go ahead.
BT: Well, last year, USADA was involved with one of Floyd Mayweather's fights, and now you guys are involved in another one of his fights coming up later this year. Recently, Bob Arum, the promoter for Manny Pacquiao, stated that he's concerned about the neutrality of USADA, so he would actually prefer for WADA to handle all testing if Mayweather and Pacquiao were to ever fight. I was just curious, does WADA actually conduct testing on their own?
AS: It's one of those situations where WADA does not have the infrastructure to actually conduct testing themselves. They don't have what we call "Doping Control Officers" that specifically work for them to go out and perform the tests as USADA does. Typically what will happen if WADA was ever to decide they wanted to have somebody tested, they would work with the anti-doping organization in whichever country or area that the testing would be conducted by. So for instance, in the US, USADA is the National Anti-Doping Organization for Olympic, Paralympic and Pan American Sport. What that means is that we are recognized by the United States Congress as the official anti-doping agency for those sports, so we conduct the testing on behalf of Olympic sports here in the U.S.
BT: So let's say the Olympic Games are in Seoul, Korea. Do you test our athletes for the Olympics and then pass those results on to WADA? Is there any additional testing that would go on once the athletes leave here and actually arrive in Korea? Would they have to test with the Korean national anti-doping agency as well?
AS: Yes. For example, we'll use London since it's the next upcoming Olympics . What would happen is that, leading up to the London Olympics, we will test all members of the United States Olympic teams prior to them competing in the Olympics. Once they get to London, the UK Anti-Doping will take over the testing for the Olympic event itself because it's being hosted in that country. For the actual Olympic Games, the IOC, the International Olympic Committee, actually has the jurisdiction over the anti-doping for the actual games, so what that means is we have jurisdiction over all US athletes until the day the Olympic Village opens. When the Olympic Village opens until the close of the games, the IOC has jurisdiction and they work with the Organizing Committee of the host country to actually conduct that anti-doping program. Lab results would be sent to a WADA accredited lab, just like how we send all of our tests to a WADA accredited lab. So we would do all the testing for the US Olympic athletes until they enter the Olympic Village, and then that becomes the IOC jurisdiction in the host country.
BT: So there are multiple National Anti-Doping Organizations for each nation; there's a US one for the United States, a UK one for the United Kingdom, and so forth?
AS: Yeah, there's one in Canada, there's one in Australia; it's whatever the anti-doping agency is for Olympic sport in that country. That being said, there are also international sports federations. For instance, UCI [Union Cycliste Internationale], which is the cycling sport federation. There's FINA [Fédération Internationale de Natation], which is the swimming international federation. They also have the ability to conduct their own testing programs because they are a signatory to the WADA code, which we're a signatory to the WADA code. To give you a little bit of background information, WADA is the organization that creates the WADA code, which are kind of the parameters, if you will, for how testing, results management, and sanctioning are all going to be carried out somewhat uniformally by all people that are signatory to the WADA code. WADA also publishes the prohibitive substance list, so everything that we consider a prohibitive substance in competition or out of competition is something that WADA has put on the prohibited list. WADA then uses the anti-doping organizations, like ourself, as the organization overseeing that for whatever area they're responsible. In our case, it's Olympic, Paralympic, and Pan American Sport in the US.
BT: Manny Pacquiao is from the Philippines and Floyd Mayweather is an American. Although the fight would take place here in the United Staes, Bob Arum appears to be suggesting that because Manny Pacquiao is a Filipino fighter, they don't trust that USADA can remain neutral in doing the testing. Hypothetically speaking, in a situation like that, does that create a case where USADA would handle the testing for Floyd Mayweather, the Phillipine Anti-Doping Organization would handle the testing for Manny Pacquiao, and the two organizations would work together to, I don't know, compare notes I guess?
AS: Well, what typically happens, and not speaking to this case specifically because there's some hypothetical in that scenario, but what typically happens is because we're a signatory to the WADA code, we regularly work with both our national sport governing bodies as well as our international anti-doping partners to test international athletes that live, train or compete in the US. So that's a regular occurrence for us to test international athletes that are living, training, or competing in the US.
BT: Well Bob Arum says that he wants to use WADA, so I'm just trying to figure out how that would work out. To me, it sounds like in order to use WADA, he would still be using USADA in some capacity, so I guess I'm kind of confused as to why he's saying he doesn't trust USADA to be a neutral organization.
AS: I'm not clear on exactly what his thoughts are on that or where he's coming from in that situation, but what I can tell you is that from our perspective, our only purpose is to protect the rights of clean athletes, and that means all athletes. So we hold all athletes to the same standard, and those are the international standards for testing. That's what WADA does, they provide the international standards and protocols for testing, and we adhere to that. It's designed to be a way where all athletes can assure they are being treated in the same manner. That's our sole purpose. We want there to be a level playing field where the competition is equal for both sides, and that's what our main purpose is.
BT: So just to clarify again, if the Olympic Games were being held here in the United States, all of these international athletes in the UK, or Australia, or wherever, they'd get there tests done there, but when they actually arrived here for the event, they would still be subjected to testing by USADA because the event is being hosted here?
AS: That would typically be the protocol. Whoever the hosting country is works with the IOC and works with WADA to establish how the anti-doping policies are going to work during the Olympic Games. It's typically whoever is the host country.
BT: In this particular case, there wouldn't be any involvement from an organization like IOC, so I guess I was just wondering how that would work out in a scenario where you have a fight involving fighters from two different countries.
AS: Well, I think one of the important things about USADA in particular is the fact that we're an independent testing organization. As Travis [Tygart] has said in the past, it's not a "fox guarding the hen house" situation. We don't have any stake in promoting a particular sport. Our sole purpose is to be an independent national anti-doping agency and to protect the rights of clean athletes. So any athlete that's competing clean, we're their best advocate because that's what we want; we want clean competition, and we do that by holding all of our athletes to the highest international standards of testing, so that we can have a level, safe, drug-free playing field for all of the competitors. That independence piece has been important for us here in the US because athletes can know that we are an independent organization and that's our sole purpose.
BT: I guess that's one of the points Bob Arum was trying to make; that they don't trust USADA because you don't have any authority since you're independent and don't report to anybody. I'm still confused as to why they don't seem to think that USADA is neutral when you adhere to the actual Anti-Doping Code that was created by WADA, who ironically doesn't really do their own testing.
AS: I don't know what his concerns are either, but what I can tell you is that we adhere strictly to the WADA code and all of the international standards. That includes our international standards for testing, so the way that we test, the sample collection process, the way that we deal with those results, the results management portion; all of those pieces are right in line with what the World Anti-Doping Code is and what those international standards are.
BT: Well Annie, I appreciate you taking the time to explain all of this to me nd filling in some of the blanks that I was still unsure about.
AS: Feel free to contact us again if you have anymore questions. There's a lot of information on our website, usantidoping.org, as well. I'm glad you contacted us. I think it's really important to understand that WADA certainly oversees, internationally, the programs that happen, but the actual implementation of tests is usually conducted by the Anti-Doping Organizations for that country.