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International Olympic Committee Unveils Declaration on Global Anti-Doping Reforms

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A Rio 2016 Olympic Games drug testing lab. Photo: Rio2016.com

International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board members are insisting that sports organizations and Governments must be “represented equally” in the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

This was a central pledge of a declaration released today following lengthy discussions during today’s meeting here.

IOC President Thomas Bach has also requested a meeting with WADA President Sir Craig Reedie and Richard McLaren, the author of the WADA-commissioned investigation into Russian doping.

It is hoped this will take place at the “earliest possible convenience.”

Ensuring a “dialogue and close cooperation” is a key theme across the two-page proposal which bears many similarities with proclamations by anti-doping organisations.

However, subtle yet significant differences remain.

This includes a call for a completely “neutral” President as vice-president of WADA as well as the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) assuming responsibility for sanctioning.

CAS, rather than WADA, would also be responsible for sanctioning all organizations deemed non-compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code.

“Since the sports organizations and the Governments are both founding stakeholders on an equal basis, they must be represented equally on the WADA Foundation Board and Executive Committee,” the section on WADA governance reads.

“The role of athletes on the Foundation Board and Executive Committee must be strengthened.

“The representation of athletes must be elected (not appointed as now) athlete representatives.

“The WADA Boards should also include independent members.”

This directly contradicts the core theme of a United States Olympic Committee (USOC) position paper last week in which it was proposed that “no person serving in a governance role in the IOC, any NOC (National Olympic Committee), any IF (International Federation), or ANOC (Association of National Olympic Committees)” would serve in a WADA Board role.

The IOC agree that there should be no sporting involvement in testing and sanctioning, but insist that it would be pointless to exclude all experts from the organization completely.

“The call by some that there should be no expertise in sport in the governance of an organization which is looking into doping in sport, is plainly ridiculous,” added IOC Presidential spokesperson Mark Adams.

“All governance involves experts in the subjects.

“What is important is to have a separation between the governance and the prosecution of the cases, in other words the sanctioning and the investigation.

“If those two are kept separate from the governance then you have a good, well-run system which runs along the separation of powers.”

A complete ban on sporting involvement in WADA governance has also been proposed by the International National Anti-Doping Organizations.

An elected rather than an appointed Athletes’ Commission is another element of the IOC declaration which has not been put forward by anti-doping groups.

The IOC declaration also makes clear that they consider conflicts of interest as just as much of a problem for Government representatives.

“WADA must be equally independent from both sports organizations and from national interests,” it adds.

“This is necessary because even the perception of a conflict of interest can be considered damaging to the credibility of the anti-doping system.

“With regard to national interests, this is particularly important because of the recent challenges to the system from certain NADOs, from disputes between different NADOs, and from appeals by IFs against decisions of National Anti-Doping Institutions.”

WADA must also have a “neutral President and vice-president who have no function in any Government or Government organization or in any sports organization.”

All stakeholders, including “elected representatives of athletes,” should agree on all candidates.

WADA, it is proposed, would be responsible for “compliance monitoring including investigation of all code signatories.”

But there is no call for WADA having any sanctioning power to act in cases of non-compliance.

“Sanctioning with regard to individuals (athletes, officials, coaches, doctors, etc) following a case established by the ITA, or sanctioning of a Code signatory (sports organisations, event organizers, NADOs and laboratories) following a declaration of non-compliance for WADA, both to be determined by the independent CAS, following the democratic principle of separation of powers.”

John Coates, the IOC vice-president who was present during today’s meeting, is also the President of CAS.

More details are also revealed about the Independent Testing Authority (ITA).

This body, which has also been called for by WADA and anti-doping bodies, will establish “minimum numbers of tests” for every athlete wanting to participate in the World Championships or in an Olympic Games.

Athletes who fail to meet these “transparent” criteria would be barred from competing.

The ITA Board would include representatives from “public authorities, the Olympic Movement and WADA as well as elected athlete representatives.”

It would, however, be restricted to a “supervisory role only.”

It is hoped that the ITA will be in operation at next year’s Winter Olympic Games here in Pyeongchang.

Broader reform proposals will not, however, be agreed upon until far later.

A World Conference on Doping in Sport scheduled for 2019 is seen as the most likely time frame.

By Nick Butler

Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz

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