Thursday, June 27, 2013

Increased funding crucial to anti-doping

A call for increased funding to tackle doping in sport made by UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) during the Tackling Doping webinar on 26 June was underlined by today’s release of the World Anti-Doping Agency’s 2012 annual report. ‘The biggest constraint ahead for WADA is limited funding’, wrote WADA President John Fahey in the report. ‘For the second consecutive year, WADA’s Foundation Board voted to keep the 2013 budget frozen at approximately US$28 million, the same level of funding received in 2011, because governments did not agree to provide any additional funding for WADA. While I appreciate that economies across the world continue to struggle, this freeze is not ideal for the fight against doping in sport. WADA has dipped into its reserves over the last two years to cover shortfalls for its operating costs, but if funding continues to remain the same, the Agency will be forced to cut back its activities.’

“There needs to be a drive to increase investment”, UKAD Chief Executive Andy Parkinson told the Tackling Doping webinar yesterday. “The new version of the Code [2015 Code, published last week] is more targeted and focussed, but there is a feeling that certain organisations are not applying the Code in the same way that others are”. Parkinson said that more needed to be done to ensure that WADA has the resources available to investigate and sanction those not correctly implementing the Code.

Parkinson also supported a change of emphasis in the Code, regarding the introduction of four-year bans. Under the existing Code, sporting organisations would begin with a two-year ban, which could be increased up to four years maximum in cases involving ‘aggravating circumstances’. The 2015 version of the Code starts with a four-year ban, which can then be reduced depending on the circumstances of the case. “The current draft has taken great steps to punish serious dopers”, he said, adding that WADA would soon release a legal opinion on how this change complies with European Union law.

Delegates also heard from Ana Muñoz, Director of the Agencia Española para la Protección de la Salud en el Deporte (AEPSD), who outlined Spain’s new legislation criminalising doping. “Spain has arrived late to the fight against doping”, she said, “but 2013 marks a change”. Muñoz said that Spain is moving towards a general sports law covering match-fixing, doping and corruption. She said that the AEPSD would continue its appeal against a court’s decision to order the destruction of the blood bags connected to the Operación Puerto investigation once all appeals against its judgment imprisoning Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes have been exhausted. “We want the blood bags and the names”, said Muñoz. “It is essential to know who these athletes are”.

The Tackling Doping webinar, which was free of charge, was organised by World Sports Law Report in association with UKAD. The annual Tackling Doping in Sport conference will next take place in 2014 in London.

Andy Brown


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