WADA: London medal nations sign of clean games
STOCKHOLM (AP) - The director general of the World Anti-Doping Agency believes the number of nations that won medals at the London Olympics shows that efforts to fight doping are working.
At a conference Friday in Stockholm, David Howman said anti-doping campaigns have allowed "clean'' nations like his native New Zealand to win medals "because it actually gets rid of the cheats who might have otherwise precluded countries like New Zealand from getting them.''
New Zealand won 13 medals, tying its best total from 1988.
"If you look at the other podium finishes from London you will find a far greater spread of countries than you would have in 1984, 1980, 1976, and I think that's a really strong indication that anti-doping has had an impact,'' Howman said.
In London, 30 nations won 10 medals or more. Only 12 nations won at least 10 medals at the 1980 Moscow Games, which were dominated by the former Soviet Union and East Germany, and boycotted by the U.S. and dozens of other nations.
Howman spoke at conference on doping from a public health perspective organized by Arne Ljungqvist, the chairman of the International Olympic Committee's medical commission.
"To me this is a first attempt to highlight this matter as a public health issue, because in my view it is,'' Ljungqvist said.
Anti-doping efforts have primarily been focused on fighting cheating among top athletes. Panelists at the conference said it was time to also shine the light on how performance-enhancing drugs affect public health.
"If we believe that around 3 percent of high school boys in the U.S. are taking some kind of steroid or growth hormone, that's a public health issue,'' said Tim Armstrong, an official at the World Health Organization.
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