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INTERVIEW: Federations think governments don't help fight doping By Diana Renee, dpa

Europe
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Rio de Janeiro (dpa) - The main difficulties in the fight against doping lie in the lack of cooperation from governments, since only five countries out of more than 200 in the world are doing things "well."

Such is the blunt opinion of Italian Francesco Ricci Bitti, president of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and also of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF).

"Governments are not acting as was expected", Ricci Bitti told dpa in an interview in Rio de Janeiro.

"There are only a few countries in which things are working well: the United States, Australia, France, Italy and the United Kingdom."

According to Ricci Bitti, governments are yet to deliver on the original vision upon which the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) was founded: to bear half the weight in the effort leaving the other half to the sports side of WADA, made up by international sports federations and the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

"There should be a law (against doping) in every country," Ricci Bitti said.

Instead, he noted for example that Brazil - the host of the 2014 football World Cup and the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympics - is still only "battling" on the issue 12 years after the creation of WADA.

Ricci Bitti made headlines last week with a letter in which he slammed the WADA leadership, under its Australian president John Fahey. It was such a big deal that the IOC called a conference for within a few weeks to discuss WADA‘s role and its relationship with the Olympic movement.

"Relations with WADA have deteriorated significantly and the lack of help and support from WADA against a background of constant media criticism of its sports ‘partners‘ and the consequent breakdown of trust need to be addressed as a priority," Ricci Bitti said in his letter.

WADA criticism against the International Cycling Union (UCI) in the wake of the doping scandal around former sport legend Lance Armstrong and public pressure on tennis and football made the veteran Italian sports official lose his patience, although he sought to return to a more moderate position in Rio.

"The only thing that we complained about in the recent months, especially after the Armstrong case, was that they put only the sport side on the spot. We believe that we could do better, but we need much more from the other side," he stressed.

"WADA is not working as well as expected, this is not fair. It should be a 50-50 operation. We are doing a lot more than our partners in governments, and they criticize sport because it is easier. But things don‘t work like that. I did not complain about WADA as an organization, but about communications, especially after the Armstrong case," Ricci Bitti said.

He noted the fight against doping is not easy for sports officials, mainly because it is very expensive and puts a lot of pressure on scarce resources.

"Doping tests cost a lot of money, and that is money we need for sports development. We need more concern from governments, and governments are not acting as was expected," he said.

Ricci Bitti has high hopes for the World Anti-Doping Conference that is scheduled to take place in Johannesburg in November.

"That gathering will be important to review the (anti-doping) code. This is important for the programme to fight doping, we want to update it," he said. dpa re sef vs bwh

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