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Government agrees tax exemption for World Anti-Doping Agency

The World Anti-Doping Agency's temporary base in Lausanne

(Keystone Archive)

In an effort to help the Swiss city of Lausanne's bid to become host city of the new World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), the government agreed on Monday to grant tax exemption to the new body.

In an agreement signed by the Swiss foreign minister, Joseph Deiss, the sports minister, Samuel Schmid, and WADA president Dick Pound, the agency will have to pay no direct or indirect taxes, nor will its foreign employees have to pay tax on their salaries, if Lausanne is selected.

Joseph Deiss said the agreement would "offer Lausanne a boost" in its bid to become the agency's home.

The move comes ahead of a decision due by the end of August on a permanent base for the agency, which has temporarily been set up in Lausanne.

Lausanne is competing against Montreal, Stockholm, Vienna, Bonn and Lille to host the new agency.

The Swiss government is backing Lausanne's bid as the logical choice, arguing the region already hosts 17 international sports governing bodies and the International Olympic Committee.

The European Union argues the choice of Lausanne would make it difficult for WADA, set up in 1999 to coordinate the global campaign against drugs in sports, to act independently of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

In 1999, the IOC itself applied to the Swiss government for tax exemption, but dropped its request following repeated bribery and corruption scandals over the selection of Salt Lake City as host of the 2002 Winter Olympics.

WADA has already come under attack from world sports federations for failing to deal with the problem of doping in Olympic sports.

In a letter from Denis Oswald, Swiss president of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF), WADA stands accused of failing to investigate allegations that five Olympic gold medallists from Italy used the banned human growth hormone (hGH) during preparation for the Sydney Olympic Games.

Oswald told the anti-doping agency his association had yet to hear from them about the outcome of any investigation.

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