BERLIN (Reuters) - More governments must pass laws criminalizing doping and information exchange needs to increase between the pharma industry and anti-doping bodies as drugs are no longer a problem exclusive to sport, WADA President Craig Reedie has warned.
In a statement, seen by Reuters, the World Anti-Doping Agency president said doping had spread beyond the short confines of sport.
"What has become increasingly apparent to me... is that doping is no longer an issue that just affects sport -- it is now as important an issue to society as it is to sport. Of that there is no doubt," Reedie wrote in the statement, that will be issued later on Monday on the WADA website.
Reedie, an International Olympic Committee vice president who took over at WADA last year, said a conference in Tokyo last week involving pharmaceutical companies, UNESCO, WADA and other anti-doping bodies merely highlighted that trend.
"The very fact that this conference was even necessary demonstrates the fact that doping is no longer an issue 'owned' by sport," he said.
"It has become a much wider societal issue that carries significant dangers to public health, and therefore requires a global response."
Reedie said tighter contact with pharmaceutical companies would help WADA identify trends of substance abuse while also alert anti-doping bodies of "medicinal substances in their pipeline which might have the characteristics of a substance that could be of interest to dopers."
A string of positive doping tests and sanctions in recent months involving top athletes, many of them from Russia, has again raised alarm bells among sports administrators, desperate to rid world sport of illegal drugs.
"Sport is now a hugely lucrative industry, and there is a real area of concern with drugs being counterfeited, illegally produced, trafficked and distributed -- and ultimately these drugs get in the hands of elite athletes and, increasingly, members of the public," he said.
"If governments can introduce relevant laws, and applicable penalties to combat this abuse of substances, then police will act and the scourge of doping can be prevented," he said.
Several countries, like Italy, Spain and France, have already made doping a criminal offence, with potential offenders facing the prospect of a jail term and stiff fines.
Reporting by Tokyo bureau, Writing by Karolos Grohmann; editing by Sudipto Ganguly