WADA says MLB should use independent testing for credibility

LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- Major League Baseball must farm out its drug-testing program to an independent agency if it wants to regain credibility, the head of the World Anti-Doping Agency said Wednesday.

"The message to the average person is very clear: How can you trust in-house [testing]?" WADA president John Fahey said at a symposium at the Olympic Museum.

Despite the problems highlighted in the Mitchell report, Major League Baseball wants to keep its current program largely intact, with commissioner Bud Selig saying there is no need for a third party to get involved.

"If you really are serious about eliminating a problem in your sport, then you really could not argue against independent testing," said Fahey, who added that WADA stands ready to help avoid conflicts of interest.

Selig has said he wants to increase the independence of the MLB's doctor who runs the program.

Baseball and other U.S. pro leagues have been at odds with WADA in recent years because their programs are seen as inadequate in curtailing doping.

Currently, each major league player is tested within five days of arriving at spring training and is tested one additional time each year. There also are 600 random tests, of which up to 60 may be conducted during the offseason.

"Why would they not go to a third party?" said Fahey, a former Australian finance minister who took over as WADA president this year. "I am hopeful that they will recognize this."

Fahey also challenged more than 100 countries to sign a United Nations treaty and incorporate the fight against drug cheats into national law.

He said 77 countries have ratified the UNESCO Convention on Doping in Sport since it came into force Feb. 1, 2007. Four years ago, 191 nations signed a declaration to support the convention at a WADA world conference held in Copenhagen, Denmark.

"It is not enough. We need universal ratification that will give the anti-doping movement power, influence and the tools to cope with some of the major issues that are outside the purviews of the sports movement," Fahey said.

The United States has yet to ratify the convention, though it has the support of President Bush and legislation is being considered by Congress.

In other businesss, WADA does not plan to get involved in the case of sprinter Dwain Chambers, who was banned for two years from 2003 to 2005 after testing positive for the steroid THG, saying British sporting authorities must decide his future.

Chambers was picked to run in next week's world indoor championships in Valencia, Spain, after meeting qualifying standards. He is reportedly considering a court challenge to Britain's Olympic ban on dope cheats, a move that could allow him to go to the Beijing Games in August.