World anti-doping agency elects new chief

By Xinhua

Madrid : Australia’s former finance minister John Fahey has won the next presidency of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

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The agency elected the 62-year-old lawyer after WADA head Dick Pound rejected the European governments’ request for a six-month postponement to the election.

Fahey will take over from Pound, the only president WADA has ever had since its foundation in 1999. He will assume office on Jan 1, 2008 for a three-year term.

He was the only candidate after Europe’s choice Jean-Francois Lamour of France was abruptly pulled out last month, leaving the Europeans disappointed and embarrassed.

The Australian was already offering an olive branch to the European governments, minutes after the election, where four of their representatives strongly complained about the non-consensus procedure but finally abstained instead of voting against him.

“Europe have indicated that there was nothing personal in this and it was an issue relating to other matters,” he told reporters in a press conference.

“I’ve made it clear that I will go to Europe early in the new year to see how we can cooperate and collaborate in the work ahead,” he added.

Pound also deemed the four abstentions as a stance of “remaining committed to WADA and avoiding harms to the organisation’s solidarity.

“I could understand their disappointment and abstentions,” he said.

Long-time favourite Lamour withdrew from the running in fury last month, after several non-European countries put forward Fahey as a surprise late candidate in September.

Lamour also resigned as WADA vice president and claimed WADA had violated its own election procedures by letting Fahey into the race.

Fahey was premier of New South Wales state in Australia from 1992-1995, and served as federal finance minister from 1996 until his retirement from politics in 2001 for health reasons.

Although he led Sydney’s successful bid for the 2000 Olympics and has worked with some sport bodies, he was still questioned as having little sports management or anti-doping experience.

But IOC president Jacques Rogge has said Fahey should be given time to prove himself.