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Test code to remain the same despite privacy concerns

"Nothing [is] about to change", the head of the World Anti-Doping Agency has announced, after several high-profile sportsmen attacked new rules governing out-of-competition tests, which they say amount to an invasion of privacy.


AFP - World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) director general David Howman insisted "nothing was about to change" after meeting with sports bodies here on Tuesday to discuss rules governing out-of-competition tests.

But Howman also said here Tuesday "you can never say never" when it came to the question of how the system might evolve.

Several high-profile sportsmen, including British tennis star Andy Murray, have attacked the new 'whereabouts' rule which requires athletes to notify drug testers of their movements as an invasion of privacy.

After his meeting with national and international players' associations, Howman said: "It (their whereabouts) was their only gripe, we did not hear anything about the new sanctions or anything else.

"This was not a negotiation. This was a discussion which was entirely about information sharing each way. I said we cannot make promises but we are here to listen to the things you raise.

"To be sensible any progress (with whereabouts) will be looked at shortly. Any malpractice that may take place will be amended.

"You do not live in concrete. This is a new process. We have only gone six weeks into it - give it a chance.

"But then again you can never say never."

Athletes on a national testing register - generally elite athletes in an Olympic or major team sport - must make themselves available to testers for one hour a day, between 0600GMT and 2300GMT three months in advance. This is done online and can be updated by email or text message.

If an athlete is not where he or she told the testers they would be, this counts as a 'strike'.

Three 'strikes' in an 18-month period leads to an automatic ban from competition, which is what happened to Britain's Olympic 400 metre champion Christine Ohuruogu before she won the world championships in Osaka in 2007.

Murray labelled the new rules as "so draconian that it makes it almost impossible to live a normal life".

Meanwhile 65 Belgian athletes, comprising cyclists, footballers and volleyball players have challenged the 'whereabouts' rule on the grounds it breaks European privacy laws.

But Howman said: "I think a lot of people complain about changes but these are the rules of the sport.

"In five years of running the programme there has not been a successful legal challenge - perhaps that could tell you maybe it has been working."

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