By Steve Keating
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (Reuters) - Anti-doping crusaders losing ground in the war on drugs in sport will meet this week to discuss dramatic new battle plans including a more robust role for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
Fallout from the WADA Independent Commission report into allegations of widespread doping, corruption and collusion in Russian athletics will dominate the agenda when WADA's executive committee and foundation board meet on Tuesday and Wednesday.
WADA's Foundation Board, which represents governments and the Olympic Movement, are expected to vote and formally suspend the Moscow laboratory that is alleged to have participated in a coverup while several other countries face warnings and possible sanctions for non-compliance of the new WADA Code.
A large part of the allegations in the 323-page report centers around the Moscow lab which processed samples from Russian athletes on behalf of the athletics federation, and tested them for banned performance-enhancing drugs.
The report alleged that the laboratory destroyed samples despite being told by WADA to preserve them, and that staff took bribes from athletes or their coaches in exchange for covering up positive tests. Russian authorities said WADA itself asked them to destroy them.
Much of the meeting, however, is expected to be spent taking a clinical look at the current structure set up to combat doping.
Described by one WADA official as a defining moment for the global anti-doping agency, officials are expected to debate an International Olympic Committee (IOC) proposal to have the Montreal-based agency take over drug testing from federations.
WADA, with a current annual budget of $31 million, has previously dismissed the plan as unrealistic saying it would need hundreds of millions of dollars to take on such a massive logistical challenge.
However, the Independent Commission led by former WADA chief Dick Pound has exposed glaring deficiencies in the anti-doping fight and the urgent need for a new game plan.
Pound suggested that his report only scratched the surface and the shocking revelations were only the “tip of the iceberg” alluding to wider corruption outside of Russian athletics.
The Canadian lawyer and IOC member will be on hand to brief members on his report and could offer some hints at what his investigation uncovered beyond the events in Russia.
Some believe the scandal could have bigger ramifications than the graft affair at FIFA, where president Sepp Blatter has been suspended, 14 officials and marketing executives have been indicted, and Switzerland is investigating the awarding of two World Cups hosting duties to Russia and Qatar.
(Editing by Frank Pingue)