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India signs Copenhagen declaration

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, JAN. 17. Nearly two years after pledging its support, India has finally signed the Copenhagen declaration on doping in sports.

The acceptance of the declaration raises hopes that the Union Government would soon be able to set up a National anti-doping agency (NADO) towards arresting the rampant use of banned substances by sportspersons.

It should also pave the way for a more serious effort at dope control measures, pending the formation of NADO, as well as the accreditation procedures for the dope control laboratory here.

The Union Sports Minister, Sunil Dutt, signed the declaration on January 6 and forwarded it to the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA). The Government also cleared its arrears for 2004 towards WADA funding. The final signing of the document followed a Cabinet decision last month.

The Copenhagen declaration was signed on March 5, 2003, by about 80 government representatives and a majority of the international sports federations, clearing the way for the acceptance of the WADA Code.

The declaration sought to recognise the role of WADA in anti-doping measures around the world and supported its co-funding.

Till January 12 this year, 161 governments including all the major sporting powers of the world, all the 202 National Olympic Committees (NOCs), all leading international federations including those in athletics, swimming, football, gymnastics, hockey, boxing, badminton, cycling, table tennis, basketball and volleyball, and 35 National anti-doping organisations have signed the declaration.

Settling the dues

Of its share of $93,594 for the 2004 WADA budget, India had managed to pay only $ 16,115. The balance has now been paid. India is committed to pay another $93,595 towards the 2005 budget.

Japan tops the Asian list of fund-givers for WADA with a contribution of $15,02,800 in 2004 and a similar amount pledged for the current year. The U.S. made a contribution of $14,39,531 for 2004 and has committed $15,73613 for 2005.

Much of the delay in India signing the declaration has been put on the change in Government, though it must have been embarrassing till very recently to find India standing out as the lone non-signatory in Asia from among the countries that had initially supported the WADA move.

The move to form NADO had been initiated about two years ago by the Sports Ministry, but now it is expected to gain further momentum. The big question would, however, be on the continuing practice of seeking foreign expertise, especially in sport like athletics and weightlifting, and the allegations against foreign coaches and recovery experts about the encouragement given to doping.

Recently, a panel set up by the ministry had approved a list of foreign coaches and recovery experts in athletics, retaining the Ukrainians against some of whom there were allegations last year regarding the drawing up of a doping chart.

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