WADA warns that Madrid 2016 stands to lose with anti-doping laws

WADA director general David HowmanMadrid  - New Spanish laws that ease up on doping tests in sports were condemned by the World Anti-Doping Agency Friday and could harm Madrid's chances of hosting the 2016 Olympics, the agency said.

"We said to them that they should quickly change the law. They said they would do that, modify some aspects," WADA director general David Howman told the German Press Agency dpa in a telephone interview.

The rules that are set to be implemented in Spain are less restrictive than WADA guidelines. For example, players would no longer need to be permanently available for testing, with tests banned between 11 pm and 8 am.

The Spanish move incorporates the complaints of sportsmen like world No. 1 tennis player Rafael Nadal, who in January defined the existing system as "an intolerable persecution."

Howman claims that WADA was not informed of the changes proposed by the Spanish government. However, the agency has since held several sessions of talks on the subject with Spain's Secretary of State for Sport, Jaime Lissavetzky. Howman is set to meet with Lissavetzky Saturday at the WADA headquarters in Montreal.

"We were not informed before we read it in the media," he complained. "When we read it we said to (Lissavetzky) it was not wise to have a law like this, also not helpful for the Madrid bid."

"If you hold Olympic Games you can't have a law that says you can't do 24 hours tests, also for other international events. You don't make it a law," Howman stressed.

Madrid is competing with Chicago, Tokyo and Rio de Janeiro to host the 2016 Olympics. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is set to make its choice in Copenhagen on October 2, and an IOC evaluating commission visited the Spanish capital this week.

Howman noted that neither of the three cities that are competing with Madrid pose any problems in relation to the fight against doping.

"Not at present," he said.

Howman said he understands that, in practice, there are nuances and adaptations in the application of any law, but added he will not accept that flexibility is made into law. And he made it clear that the Spanish government would face problems if the decree is left unchanged.

"WADA would write a report for the IOC saying there is a problem with the national anti-doping agency in Spain," he noted.

Spain argues that its law is similar to one in place in France, which contemplates a break in testing from 9 pm to 6 am.

Howman, who admitted to having read only portions of the Spanish bill, told dpa that France's legislation is also unacceptable for WADA.

"We have the same dialogue with France, we expect changes. What do we expect from governments in general? What we hope as courtesy is that they check with us. Italy and Austria did it, and so far we are happy with their laws."

Lissavetzky said in an article last week that time restrictions are only applicable to out-of-competition testing, and that "there are no limitations whatsoever" during competition. But the truth remains that the decree does not make such a distinction explicit.

A representative of Europe's 49 governments before WADA's executive committee, Lissavetzky was set to meet late Saturday with Howman and with WADA boss John Fahey. In Montreal, the Spanish official was to seek a way out of a clash that was harming Madrid's Olympic bid. (dpa)