Hunter at the Crikey sports desk writes:

As organisers of the Melbourne Commonwealth
Games watched the drug scandals unfold one after another at this year’s Winter
Olympics in Torino, Italy, it’s a pretty safe bet they were concerned their own
event, due to start barely a month later, would also become mired in news of positive
drug tests.

As it happened, the Friendly Games avoided
a major drug scandal, but in this report released last Friday the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has both praised and criticised the organisation of
the testing regime in Melbourne.

Overall, the report says the doping control
program “was carried out competently and satisfactorily”. It said the number of
tests was appropriate (1014 tests of 4500 athletes), and the quality of staff
was high, but alongside the successes it provides a detailed list of failings.

“The doping control
facilities and stations were often improvised and inadequate for the demands of
a major event such as the Commonwealth Games. Even at the Melbourne Cricket
Ground … the provision for doping control appeared to be ad hoc and was barely
sufficient. The situation in the state-of-the-art Aquatics Centre was even

The management “of the
blood sampling process, and the manner in which procedures were changed during
the Games, was unfortunate, causing confusion for athletes and doping control
officials,” and the management of results was
“cumbersome and slow”.

At the doping control stations, “Security was very lax to begin with (no guards;
unlocked doors; unlocked fridges, etc) but improved as the Games progressed,”
while the testing area after the first session of the athletics was “verging on
the chaotic”.

“The lack of prior preparation also led, on one
occasion, when the waiting room was very full of notified athletes, to the drinks
cabinet being refilled by the contractor’s representative, which … created an
unwelcome disturbance and further reduced the space available for athletes and
their representatives.”

When Crikey contacted the Commonwealth
Games Federation this morning, a spokesperson acknowledged the findings but
preferred to focus on another line from the report: “The doping control
programme at the XVIIIth Commonwealth Games was conducted in such a way that
the integrity of the programme was preserved”.

Peter Fray

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