Dáil Éireann - Volume 502 - 11 March, 1999
Written Answers. - Sports Anti-Doping Measures.
Mr. Gilmore Mr. Gilmore
12. Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation further to his statement issued on 4 February 1999 when legislation will be published to provide for criminal sanctions for those caught abusing drugs in sport; if he has discussed the outcome of the Olympic World Conference on Doping in Sport with the Irish Olympic Council; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7398/99]
Dr. McDaid Dr. McDaid
Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation (Dr. McDaid): The Deputy, and indeed all Members of the House, will be well aware of my abhorrence of drug taking within sport and my commitment to do all within my power to help eliminate this scourge.
To this end, I launched details of Ireland's first ever national sports anti-doping programme last year. This programme will be operated under the auspices of the Irish Sports Council once the Council is established on a statutory basis. As Deputies will be aware, the Irish Sports Council Bill passed Committee Stage of the House last week.
While my core objective is the introduction of the national sports anti-doping programme, which is predicated on the active participation of autonomous national governing bodies of sport, I have also felt that the measures in the programme might also be complemented through the application of certain legislative based measures.
A number of options have been identified which I and my officials are currently pursuing – specifically in the area of possession and supply of certain performance enhancing drugs. I am for example currently in discussion with my colleague the Minister for Health and Children on the scope available under the Misuse Of Drugs Act for assisting in the battle against doping in sport.
Drug abuse in sport, of its nature, cannot, of course, be tackled at just the national level. This was borne out at the recent IOC World Conference on Doping in Sport in Lausanne where there was open acknowledgement that doping in sport is an international problem which requires a concerted and co-ordinated response at international level.
This has also been acknowledged at European level where the EU has committed itself to work together with sports organisations in the fight against doping in sport. At the instigation of EU  Sports Ministers, the European Commission has established a working group composed of officials of the member states to assist in preparing a report on harmonising both national and European assistance for doping control for consideration at an informal conference of Sports Ministers currently scheduled for June. I believe strongly that we should work together collectively to address these issues.
While I have not spoken directly with the Olympic Council of Ireland, Mr. John Treacy, executive chairman of the Sports Council, was present as an observer, on my behalf, at the International Olympic Committee's Conference on Doping in Sport at Lausanne. I have expressed my disappointment in particular with the stance taken at the conference with regard to the proposals to impose a standard two year sanction for a first offence involving Class 1 substance; and I subsequently wrote to the three national governing bodies whose international federations were reported as not agreeing to the proposal – Union Cycliste Internationale, FIFA and International Tennis Federation. I am pleased to say that the three national governing bodies have each assured me respectively of their commitment to the anti-doping measures currently in train under the national programme.
I have also expressed concerns about the proposal that the international anti-doping agency be chaired by the IOC, and in particular the importance for such an agency to be seen to be truly independent if it is to have credibility.
Dáil Éireann 502 Written Answers. Sports Anti-Doping Measures.