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Reedie: The Fight against Doping, Much More than a Battle for Elite Sport

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Eminent sports administrator Sir Craig Reedie, right, president of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and a vice president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), recently was honored with the 2016 Eagle Award from the United States Sports Academy. The award was presented at London’s East India Club by John S. Hunter, a distinguished educator and leader in sport and physical education in the United Kingdom and a member of the Academy’s Board of Visitors.

The fight against doping in sport is a noble fight — it’s about protecting the rights of individual athletes and teams to live out their dreams. It’s also about safeguarding the very integrity of sport; or else, risk significant damage to public confidence, leading to diminished fan engagement and threatened commercial sustainability. It is not just about elite sport. It is also about educating our youth, about instilling the right values and promoting health and wellbeing. And, it is about using the power of sport to positively influence society, which makes it a societal issue.

We have made progress in the fight against doping in sport but much more still needs to be done. When we last gathered here in Paris, in October 2015, for the fifth Conference of Parties, the 2015 Code had just entered into force ten months earlier; and, among other amendments, the new Code placed increased importance on:

  1. Smart and effective testing; and
  2. Investigations and the use of intelligence in the fight against doping. In fact, the new Code vastly improved WADA’s capacity to play its role as a global regulator by granting the Agency the power to conduct its own investigations; whereas, previously we were only able to pass information onto bodies that had the power to investigate.

Most would agree that WADA has used these new powers to maximum effect by:

In January 2015, initiating the independent Pound Commission that unveiled widespread doping in Russian athletics; and in July 2016, initiating the independent McLaren investigation that revealed institutionalized manipulation of the doping control process; and, in December 2016, identified Russian athletes that may have benefited. Make no mistake about it. Over the last 15 years, we, UNESCO, WADA, governments and the sport movement have built a solid global anti-doping system. The Code and the Convention are robust instruments. These, along with the Anti-Doping Convention of the Council of Europe, have contributed to creating a legal system that is implemented across all sports and all nations. At 99% global endorsement, the International Convention against doping in Sport is the second most successful Convention in the history of UNESCO in terms of the rhythm of ratification post adoption. With The Central African Republic, Sierra Leone and Tanzania as its most recent signatories, there have now been 187 ratifications. But regardless of the success that we have had thus far, we – that is UNESCO, WADA, governments and the sport movement – must not rest on our laurels. The fight against doping is not a static fight. We simply must do more.

We’ve developed the Code and, by and large, Signatories now have their Code rules in place. With this, WADA’s focus has shifted to ensuring full compliance with Code rules, which is a demanding step change that the Agency must enforce in order to protect clean athletes. The same can be said for the Convention. Its development and ratification were major achievements; however, this is no longer sufficient as full compliance must be the ultimate goal. And, with this, I propose that State Parties to the Convention renew their pledge to fulfill their obligations and implement all articles of the Convention.

UNESCO AND WADA ARE PARTNERS

From the outset, UNESCO and WADA have been partners – – connected by a common mission. And while a strong, independent WADA is necessary to implementing the Code, we also need the global community to rally around the Convention. Together, the Convention and the Code are essential to our success in preventing doping. The Convention establishes the legal framework by which governments can address specific areas of anti-doping that are outside the domain of the sports movement. In other words, it enables governments the world over to apply the force of international law.

The Convention and the Code are complementary. The Convention focuses on the macro policy – what governments can do — and the Code focuses more on micro actions – what the rules are and they can be enforced. Imagine if you will that they are two legs of the same body, which need to walk in the same direction, at the same speed or else the body stumbles. WADA is moving forward and State Parties are encouraged to move in the same direction.

In November 2016, WADA’s Foundation Board approved a series of recommendations, which will guide the Agency’s priorities for the years to come and position the Agency to be Fit for the Future. Later this afternoon WADA’s Director General, Olivier Niggli, will walk you through these priorities; however, allow me to draw your attention to four that I believe are of particular importance to Governments and the Convention; and, regarding which, WADA is and will be very active going forward:

  1. Education
  2. Detection
  3. Deterrence
  4. Supporting quality WADA-accredited laboratories

EDUCATION

Values-based education is fundamental and one of the most effective means for changing the culture of doping in sport. Its importance is well recognized and the implementation of such programs is required as part of the Code and the Convention. Social science research shows that detection and deterrence are simply not sufficient with athletes viewing moral and ethical aspects of doping as among the strongest reasons not to dope. With this, I am asking the Assembly to call for increased delivery and implementation of values-based education through sport — mainly through provision of quality anti-doping programs.

DETECTION

While we cannot combat doping without values-based education, it alone is not the solution. Detection is also key to the fight against doping as most recently demonstrated via WADA’s independent Pound and McLaren investigations that leveraged non-analytical evidence to unveil widespread doping of an unprecedented scale.

With the wealth of information and intelligence that exists, it is no surprise that investigators are at their most effective if they are able to exchange information with their peers in other organizations. Given WADA’s most recent experience with intelligence and investigations, and our belief that there is much to be uncovered, I would also ask the Assembly to help facilitate sharing of information and coordination between Anti-Doping Organizations and public law enforcement authorities at the national and international levels.

DETERRENCE

Perhaps it goes without saying but…what is the point of detecting cheating if there are no consequences as a result?

Athletes that get caught cheating face consequences. Why then, would it not be the same for Signatories that do not meet the requirements of the Code?

With virtually all Signatories now rule compliant under the 2015 Code, WADA has shifted its attention to ensuring quality anti-doping practice worldwide. As such, Code compliance monitoring is increasingly important. In 2016, we launched a Monitoring Program, which is the most thorough review of anti-doping programs that has ever taken place. The Program includes a questionnaire, audits and investigations where appropriate to ensure compliance with the Code. But, even with this, an important component has been missing. There are currently no consequences for Signatories that are declared non-compliant with the Code.

Further to a strong athlete appeal, in November 2016, WADA’s Foundation Board endorsed a graded sanctioning framework; which, specifies a range of graded, proportionate and predictable consequences for noncompliance with the Code by a Signatory. In May 2017, the Board approved its development, which requires WADA to amend a very limited number of Code provisions related to compliance, and to develop an International Standard for Code Compliance by Signatories. A robust stakeholder consultation process started in June 2017 with the view to seeking approval at our November 2017 Foundation Board meeting and the changes entering into effect in early 2018. We are confident that, once in place, this will serve as a powerful deterrence mechanism for Code Signatories.

We believe that, 12 years after adoption of the Convention, this Assembly may, similarly, wish to consider development of such framework of consequences — which would be respectful of UNESCO’s role, mandate and culture and that would encourage State Parties to fully implement all the requirements of the Convention.

SUPPORTING QUALITY WADA-ACCREDITED LABORATORIES

The global anti-doping testing system is serviced by a network of WADA-accredited laboratories that analyzes samples and reports test results. A solid and reliable testing system allows the anti-doping community to identify trends in doping and testing activity and better assist AntiDoping Organizations in the implementation of more effective testing programs. By constantly strengthening its laboratory accreditation process, WADA ensures high quality results and enables a high-performing analytical system.

WADA laboratory accreditation requirements have always been amongst the most demanding of all industries. You may have noticed that, in 2016, nine laboratories were suspended as a direct result of WADA’s enhanced laboratory quality assessment and monitoring program. Please note that it is paramount for Governments, which have established WADA accredited laboratories in their countries, to finance them appropriately so that they can conduct state of the art analysis of the absolute highest quality. Simply put, there cannot be any compromise on the accreditation and monitoring of WADA-accredited laboratories.

In closing, I would simply like to say that — whether you are a Minister, ambassador, high ranked official or permanent delegate – you are all representatives of your country and, in particular, of your athletes. The discussions that you will have over these two days, and the decisions that you take, will shape the future for your athletes. This meeting represents a pivotal opportunity to strengthen the Convention. I would ask you to keep your current and future athletes top of mind during your deliberations. They make us proud every day through their excellence and perseverance…we owe them ‘our best’ in order to protect their right to clean sport.

Thank you for your attention.

By Sir Craig Reedie, President of the World Anti-Doping Agency

This story 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.

Editor’s Note: Sir Craig Reedie was the recipient of the United States Sports Academy’s 2016 Eagle Award, given annually to a world leader in sport to recognize that individual’s contributions to promoting international harmony, peace and goodwill through the effective use of sport. The recipient must have tempered strength with keen judgment in using authority wisely as a means of bringing nations together through sport for the betterment of mankind.

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