Tuesday, January 29, 2008

WADA develops international privacy standard

One of the most interesting snippets of news to come out of Integrity In Sport: Contractual Risk Management, World Sports Law Report’s latest briefing hosted by Charles Russell LLP, was that the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has developed a draft International Standard for the Protection of Privacy.

The timescale is interesting: the nine-page draft document, containing minimum privacy and data protection standards that all parties that collect and use personal data to tackle anti-doping in sport must adhere to, is out for consultation until 18 February and will come into effect in May this year.

The draft aims to set minimum standards of privacy protection for personal information collected and used by organisations when conducting anti-doping programmes. It is not intended to override national or international legislation, except when the standards set by that legislation fall below those set out in the International Standard.

‘All Anti-Doping Organizations are expected to comply, even when the requirements of this International Standard exceed those arising under local law’, reads the Standard. ‘Compliance with this International Standard does not exempt Anti-Doping Organizations from complying with any locally applicable data protection laws and regulations’.

Anti-doping authorities need to collect personal data from athletes in order to effectively combat doping, however athlete consent for collection of their data could prove a contentious issue. Article 4.4 of the International Standard requires athlete consent, unless such collection is ‘expressly permitted by law’, however article 4.4(b) states: ‘Anti-Doping Organizations shall inform individuals that their refusal to subject themselves to doping controls, including Testing, could prevent their continued participation in organized sport and invalidate their competition results’.

Data protection and privacy in sport, especially around doping, is increasingly becoming a contentious issue. The UCI’s plans for a ‘Biological Passport’ have led some riders to express concerns about privacy, whereas other athletes would like more intrusive systems - such as chips implanted under the skin - to be introduced to combat doping. This is an emerging tightrope that Peter Leaver QC, the newly appointed President of the UK’s National Anti-Doping Panel, will have to walk carefully.

Andy Brown