“The future of sport greatly depends on our success of manipulation and related corruption in the fight against doping, any kind.”
-International Olympic Committee President Dr. Thomas Bach addressing the Fourth World Conference on Doping in Sport in Johannesburg
“It’s all about the athletes. To be more precise: it’s all about the clean athletes. That is why we are here today for the 4th World Conference on Doping in Sport. First of all, I would like to thank our South African hosts for their great hospitality, offering us a splendid opportunity to step up and strengthen our common fight against doping in sport.
Our joint efforts have one goal: We want to protect the majority of the athletes; that is to say, all those who compete in the spirit of fair play. Protecting these clean athletes must be our ultimate goal. It must have top priority in all our decisions and initiatives.
For this reason, we have to adjust our approach and bring about a change in mentality. So, for example, we should not extrapolate the cost of a positive test from the cost of all the tests carried out. We should not then argue that one positive test costs several hundred thousand dollars.
That would be like saying that a terrorist attack at an airport costs us so many millions of dollars. Because the fight against doping is like security measures. It is also about deterrence and prevention. For this reason, our security measures, and so our tests, must be improved still more.
Tests are an indispensable means to the end of protecting the clean athletes. They are not an end in itself. What we need is the greatest possible deterrence. All of us gathered here in Johannesburg are united in our zero-tolerance attitude to doping.
The IOC will continue to pursue this fight with great determination and clear measures. On the final day of this conference, we shall know the name of the new WADA President who will take over on 1 January next year. The IOC looks forward to broadening and strengthening our intensive cooperation with the new leadership of WADA.
In the worldwide fight against doping, we need even closer cooperation with all the stakeholders. These include the government authorities and anti-doping organizations at national, regional and international levels. All of us, especially WADA, should increase the cooperation with government agencies, which means establishing precisely what each partner can and should be doing in an agreed division of responsibilities.
The IOC supports any means of improving this cooperation if it genuinely strengthens the fight against doping and does not weaken the foundations of this fight, such as the strict liability principle, the whereabouts information system and the international arbitration in sport, which we need to ensure the worldwide application of sanctions.
We need a better exchange of information between state authorities, the sports movement and the national anti-doping organizations. We expect governments to create better conditions for cooperation with sport, especially in terms of exchange of information. This also means that the state authorities must do more to severely punish those behind the scenes in doping cases: the dealers, the agents, coaches, doctors, scientists and all others involved in doping activities.
For its part, the Olympic Movement has repeatedly called for the sporting sanctions imposed in “serious” doping cases to be strengthened.
As an athlete, like my dear friends in the Athletes’ Commission, I strongly argued for a lifetime ban for even a first doping offense. But over the course of time, my legal colleagues have made me realize that this is not possible.
What is possible, however, is an increase in regular sanctions from two to four years for serious violations, which the IOC is calling for on behalf of the sports stakeholders in WADA. I strongly urge to accept this increase and the other suggested amendments to the WADA Code to improve the fight against doping.
But even a much-improved Code is not enough by itself. We are in sport. And we know that, as in sport, what counts is the result on the field.
We need even more sophisticated targeted tests, more individual profiling, and more scientific research. We should be focusing on more anti-doping research. And also in this area, we should be open to new ways of thinking. Is it not time to find out, for example, whether blood and urine tests are really the best and ultimate solution? Might there be other testing methods, which are even more reliable, more sustainable, more effective, and maybe even less intrusive?
But it is also true that, in our common fight against doping, we can be successful only if we link a system of prevention and sanctions.
For this reason, we welcome all measures aimed at avoiding doping in the first place. Such preventive measures must be applied as early as possible in an athlete’s career. But it is not just for the athletes themselves: their entourage and their family members must also be included.
To achieve this, WADA should work even more closely with the National Olympic Committees and the International Federations. They, in turn, should sit down with their members, the national federations, clubs and youth organizations, to develop and introduce effective doping-prevention programs. The IOC’s determination in this fight against doping is clear from our drastically enhanced anti-doping program for the forthcoming Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014.
The IOC will make greater use of information from sport and anti-doping agencies around the world, and apply targeted testing, both outside and during the competitions. After 30 January, when the Olympic Villages open, testing will once again cover the full in-competition menu of prohibited substances and methods.
With a record number of samples and pre-competition tests, we shall be smarter and tougher in our fight against doping than at any previous Olympic Winter Games. We shall perform these tests anywhere in the world – as a more effective, more flexible, better deterrent.
We will improve our anti-doping system with regard to both quality and quantity. In order to achieve this, the IOC has increased the number of pre-competition tests from 804 for Vancouver to 1269 for Sochi. That is an increase of 57 percent.
In all, we will perform 2,453 tests, compared with 2,149 in Vancouver. That is an increase of 14 percent – with a special focus on team sports.
In addition, as at previous Games, we shall keep all the Sochi samples for at least eight years, perhaps longer, pending the outcome of this conference. During that time, the samples may be re-analyzed at any time if new methods of identifying prohibited substances are developed. This has already proved successful at previous Games, in terms of both deterrence and subsequent sanctions.
The IOC alone will be spending more than one million U.S. dollars on pre-competition testing outside Sochi, transport, storage and retesting. In addition to that, for the Games themselves, many millions of dollars will be spent on building and running laboratories, analyses and services.
To be very clear, dear colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, these millions of dollars are not expenses. They are an investment in the future of our sport. The future of sport greatly depends on our success in the fight against doping, any kind of manipulation and related corruption, because all these measures serve to protect the clean athletes. That is our real goal. We want to ensure a fair competition. The clean athletes, they deserve our full commitment and determination.
The IOC’s commitment and determination does not end with the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. I will, together with the IOC Executive Board in December and the IOC Session in February, consider further measures.
For the sake of the clean athletes, and all of us, I hope that our common zero-tolerance commitment in the fight against doping will be the hallmark of this 4th World Conference on Doping in Sport. And I wish you every success.”
This first appeared in the blog, The Sport Intern. The editor is Karl-Heinz Huba of Lorsch, Germany. He can be reached at ISMG@aol.com. The article is reprinted here with permission of Huba.