The International Testing Agency, or ITA for short, officially opened its doors last week in Lausanne, Switzerland. The International Olympic Committee (IOC), which is also headquartered in Lausanne, approved the creation of the ITA in the summer of 2017 as another safeguard to keep sports drug-free, working in parallel with the World Anti-Doping Agency.
The ITA will service International Federations (IFs) and also provide anti-doping and testing services at major events by request. This sets the ITA apart from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which serves a more executive role in international sports governance; WADA both makes the rules and also works closely with the IOC and other National Olympic Committees (NOCs) to ensure that the agreed-upon standards are upheld, and punishes member organizations and athletes when violations are discovered.
With the slogan “Keeping Sports Real,” the ITA claims to act independently of any sports organization or national interest. Despite this claim, the ITA is also largely run by individuals that also hold positions of influence in International Federations (IFs) around the world. Notably, former Zimbabwean Olympic swimmer Kirsty Coventry will serve as the representative from the IOC Athletes’ Commission.
Other members include Uğur Erdener of Turkey, who serves as a representative from the IOC, while simultaneously sitting on the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Executive Board and the IOC Foundation Board. Erdener is also President of the Turkish Olympic Committee, Chair of the IOC’s Medical and Scientific Commission, and President of World Archery, a position he was elected to for the fourth time in 2017.
Italy’s Francesco Ricci Bitti, who also serves as President of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF) and who is the former president of the International Tennis Federation will also have a seat on the Board of the ITA.
China’s Peijie Chen, who is the sitting President of the Shanghai Institute of Physical Education, will serve as an independent representative.
Valérie Fourneyron, President of the IOC’s Foundation Board, said of the ITA’s official opening:
“We look forward to providing the global sport community and athletes with our expertise in clean sport,” and
“Our primary focus will be to regain trust by acting upon doping issues evenly across all sports worldwide.”
Though the ITA is yet to assume all measure of doping-control for a major international sporting event, it has begun making partnerships with international federations, including the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF). The International Boxing Federation (AIBA) has also partnered with the ITA, which has assumed the responsibilities of AIBA’s former anti-doping regulator, the Doping-Free Sport Unit of the Global Association of International Sports Federations, which has been incorporated into the ITA.
The ITA’s official opening is not quite early enough for the new organization to take over managing the 2018 Asian Games which will open on August 18th in Indonesia. Instead, the ITA will play only a secondary role to Professional Worldwide Controls, or PWC, a German company that describes itself as “an independent privately run company that believes strongly in doping free sport” and that “contributes to the fight against doping while maintaining a strong and feasible business.”
PWC was selected by the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) to supervise the ground-level anti-doping measures during the Asian Games in August, under the direct supervision of the OCA Medical Committee and Anti-Doping Commission. With 40 sports and over 1,600 athletes to regulate, the Asian Games present a highly complex challenge from an anti-doping perspective; however, the PWC has taken on tasks of similar stature, including the 2015 European Games and the 2017 World IAAF Championships.