John Fahey, Aussie Politician Who Strengthened WADA’s Hand, Gone At 75
John Fahey, the former head of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) who did much to extend the scope of the fight for fair play in sport to the realm of law enforcement, has died at the age of 75.
The announcement of his death today prompted a wave of tributes from all sides of the political spectrum in Australia for the former NSW Liberal premier and federal government finance minister. WADA also paid plaudits to John Fahey, who was the president when the global watchdog celebrated its 10th anniversary, noting:
“He built a number of key partnerships that have stood the test of time, particularly with the pharmaceutical industry and with law enforcement agencies around the world, including INTERPOL. These partnerships have given WADA an edge when it comes to the identification of new substances that may have a performance-enhancing effect, and with the sharing of intelligence for targeted testing programs and investigations.
John Fahey also played a crucial role in Sydney’s bid to host the Olympics in 2000 during his time as state premier, 1992 to 1995. He =later moved into Federal Parliament, where he served as finance minister in John Howard’s government before retiring from politics due to ill health.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said his contribution to NSW and Australian politics would leave a lasting legacy. Having offered John Fahey’s family a state funeral service, she said:
“Personally, I am grateful for John’s support and encouragement. He has always been a wonderful role model to generations of Liberals.”
The WADA Statement in Full:
WADA mourns the passing of the Hon. John Fahey AC
It is with great sadness that the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) notes the passing of former President, the Honorable John Fahey AC, who has died in Australia at the age of 75.
Mr. Fahey served WADA with distinction as the organization’s second President, from 2008-13, having succeeded Richard Pound in the position. During his term, he built a number of key partnerships that have stood the test of time, particularly with the pharmaceutical industry and with law enforcement agencies around the world, including INTERPOL. These partnerships have given WADA an edge when it comes to the identification of new substances that may have a performance-enhancing effect, and with the sharing of intelligence for targeted testing programs and investigations.
A lawyer by profession, Mr. Fahey was elected as a member of parliament in New South Wales, Australia, in 1984 and rose to become the State Premier in 1992. On being elected to the National Parliament in 1996, he was immediately appointed to a senior role within the Cabinet as the Federal Minister for Finance and Administration, a position he held until his voluntary retirement from Parliament nearly six years later.
A lifelong sports lover, Mr. Fahey chaired the committee responsible for the preparation, submission and presentation of the successful Sydney 2000 Olympic and Paralympic Games bid. He later chaired the Australian Rugby League Development Board and was patron of the successful club, the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, having previously been a rugby league player and coach.
He brought that wealth of knowledge and experience in the complex worlds of politics and sport to his role as President of WADA and, as a bridge-builder, he executed the duties of that position with fairness, diplomacy and integrity.
Someone with a strong religious faith, Mr. Fahey was Chancellor of the Australian Catholic University from 2014 until his death and, in 2019, he was awarded Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St. Gregory the Great in recognition of his service to the Catholic Church in Australia.
WADA Director General Olivier Niggli said:
“John was a marvelous President and an outstanding person. He had very strong values and always acted in the best interests of WADA and clean sport. He felt strongly about making sure that the partnership between all stakeholders worked well for the system and the athletes. He was a true leader, statesman and gentleman, and he will be greatly missed by everyone who knew him and worked with him at WADA.
On behalf of everyone who has served on WADA’s Foundation Board and various Committees, as well as management and staff, past and present, I want to pass on our condolences to John’s wife, Colleen, their extended family and wide circle of colleagues and friends. May he rest in peace.”
A moment of silence will be observed at the beginning of the WADA Executive Committee meeting on Monday in honor of Mr. Fahey.
RIP John Fahey