Australian Fahey to head world anti-doping agency

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SYDNEY, Oct 17 (Reuters) Former Australian politician John Fahey will become the head of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) after the body's vice-president Jean-Francois Lamour pulled out of the race, the Australian government said today.

''This will be the highest level international sporting appointment ever occupied by an Australian,'' Sports Minister George Brandis told Australian media.

Election of the new WADA president will be held on Novembr 17 in Madrid but Brandis said he had confirmed Fahey's appointment.

''We have confirmed ourselves overnight... that under the WADA constitution and provisions, there is no (new call for candidates) therefore Mr Fahey is the only candidate and will be elected as the president of WADA,'' Brandis told reporters.

Lamour, a former French sports minister and Olympian, was a leading candidate to succeed WADA president Dick Pound until the late candidacy of Fahey.

Lamour pulled out of the race saying he did not want to be president of a body that did not have the strength to fight against doping.

Unlike Lamour, Fahey is not a former high profile sportsman.

As the premier of the Australian state of New South Wales Fahey won the right to host the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

He went onto become a national politician in Australia's conservative government, but resigned in 2001 after losing a lung to cancer due to heavy smoking.

''I look forward to the opportunity,'' Fahey told Australian Associated Press.

''There must be an ongoing fight to ensure that sport is fair. If I can contribute to that I will certainly do my best and enjoy it very much.'' Fahey dismissed Lamour's criticisms of the WADA.

He described the recent admission of doping by American Marion Jones, the three-time gold medallist at the Sydney Games, as a sign WADA was making strong advances in the ''ongoing fight to ensure that sport is fair''.

''There's a new code that will be ratified at this conference in Madrid next month... it tightens up considerably but it has a lot to do with other steps that can be taken,'' he said.

''And if one looks at Marion Jones... it was WADA's work in the United States of that pharmaceutical company that led to the exposure of the particular athlete,'' he said.

REUTERS BJR HT1527

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