International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge believes there will always be a doping problem but claims great advances have been made to stamp out cheating in sport.
Rogge, in an interview with the Suddeutsche Zeitung, believes the creation of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and a change in IOC policy has changed the climate in the battle against doping.
Rogge said: “Definitely the tests are becoming more efficient and the scientific method is better. And we test all over the world. We do multiple tests when we are suspicious and we test people at home as we did with (disgraced Nordic skier Johann) Muhlegg.”
Rogge, who replaced Spaniard Juan Antonio Samaranch in charge of the IOC three years ago, has hailed the change in mentality at the top of world sport.
“The IOC has a new policy which I support,” said the Belgian. “The mentality has also changed. Even (President of the United States) George W. Bush has made it clear that we must battle against anabolic steroids and the American Olympic Committee has totally changed.
“We have seen Michelle Collins get an eight-year ban – previously that was impossible. It is this mentality which I welcome that WADA also has a large part in.”
He hailed the role WADA had played in changing the climate.
“We don’t need WADA to make our policy in the IOC but their presence frightens a lot of people. That is important,” said Rogge.
However, the former yachtsman believes the war on doping will never be totally won.
Rogge said: “It would be naïve to say we are solving the problem as criminality is a part of society. We will always need prisons and police.
“But we can do better tests than even six months ago, we can detect EPO.”
Rogge believes the handling of the case of Greek sprinters Kostas Kenteris and Katherina Thanou indicates the authority of the testers has been greatly enhanced.
Rogge said: “I am pleased they are suspended. We must punish athletes who miss tests very severely. They are disqualified, full stop.
“People not immediately available must at the latest be there one or two hours later – but no more leniency for those who do not show up for three, four or five hours.”
Rogge lifted the lid on the saga involving Kenteris and Thanou who claimed to have been involved in a motorcycle accident when asked to explain why they were not available for tests just before the start of the Athens Games.
“When we arrived in Athens there was our doctor Schamasch to test a load of athletes – about 20 – including Kenteris and Thanou,” said Rogge.
“All of them happened without problems only those two did not appear. I told Schamasch to start hunting.
“Two days before the opening I asked the Greek Olympic Committee about it - we heard from the federation that both were with a doctor in Munich.
“We asked for the hotel addresses but nobody was there. Then it emerged they were in the Olympic village.
“I let Schamasch send a team. But they could not find them again – and then came the story about the accident and the hospital.”