World Anti-Doping Agency director-general to return to New Zealand

David Howman. Photo / File
David Howman. Photo / File

One of New Zealand sport's most enviable curriculum vitaes is set to return in the second half of this year.

David Howman, director-general of the World Anti-Doping Agency, will head back from his Montreal base of 13 years when he steps down in June.

Expect New Zealand sporting bodies to covet skills which have made Wada into one of international sport's most influential bodies during a leadership tenure stretching to 2003.

Wada's inaugural boss Dick Pound (1999-2007) worked with Howman in his early years and offered a glowing reference on Radio Sport this morning.

"He's been around a while now, back to when I was chairman. We took a brand-new, fledgling operation and turned it into a fairly sophisticated international body, and he should feel pleased with what he's been able to do.

"You may reinherit him in New Zealand, so I believe. You [New Zealanders] all do that.

You do your world tours, but always go back," he quipped.

Pound is the author of the report that revealed shocking levels of doping in Russian athletics and led to the international suspension of the country's athletics federation. The second part of the document is expected to be more explosive when released next Thursday.

"When people realise the extent of the involvement of sports officials in covering up results and the extortion tactics with athletes, they're going to be saying 'oh my goodness, we never thought things would be this bad'. That may be a disagreeable surprise."

Speaking to the Herald on Sunday last week, Howman was more intent on the job at hand than sculpting a legacy.

He said Pound's next report will show how Wada can be an effective regulator and monitor.

"Expect more detail on the alleged level of corruption and the payouts between the top guys in Russian athletics and the IAAF. It's dreadful and shocking.

"You've got to make sure all the poison is out of the wound. We have to be satisfied those who are charged or go to prison are the only ones who were engaged."

Howman said prominent athlete anti-doping voices, like those of New Zealand middle distance runner Nick Willis, need to be better harnessed as preventative tools.

"Only then will the voice of the clean athlete come through," Howman said. "I give men's tennis as an example where we're hearing it loudly, whereas six to seven years ago a lot of top players were complaining about the anti-doping programme. Now Andy Murray, Roger Federer and others are saying 'bring on the testers, take our blood, we'd prefer to be tested than left alone'.

"Certainly that's an example we'd like to see spread, particularly in team sports where we don't hear many voices."

Another of Howman's objectives before retirement is ensuring Brazil, as Olympic hosts, are compliant with Wada's 2015 banned substance code. "They have until March 18 to remedy that, otherwise their non-compliance becomes an issue."

In November the anti-doping agencies for Russia, Andorra, Israel, Argentina, Bolivia and Ukraine were declared non-compliant. Brazil, Belgium, France, Greece, Mexico and Spain were placed on a watch list.

- NZ Herald

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