Tackling Doping in Sport webinar, 26 September 2013
One hundred and forty participants from 27 countries took part in the Tackling Doping in Sport webinar on Thursday 26 September, chaired by conference organiser David Longford. Delegates heard from the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) Director General, David Howman, and former skeleton athlete Adam Pengilly, Vice-Chairman of the International Olympic Committee’s Athlete Commission.
The main topic was the ongoing revision of the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code (WADC), the final draft of which is to be sent to all stakeholders in early October. The final drafts of the Code and all five of WADA’s International Standards will be tabled for approval by WADA’s Executive and Foundation Board at the World Conference on Doping in Sport, which takes place 12-15 November in Johannesburg.
The main ‘take home’ points from the webinar were as follows:
• WADA received over 300 specific submissions from stakeholders, suggesting over 2,000 changes to the World Anti-Doping Code.
• “Our view is that the Code is clearer in language, shorter in length and stronger in its application”.
• Under the new version of the Code, WADA has the ability to get involved in investigations – something it has not been able to do to date.
• International Standard for Testing enhanced to become the International Standard for Testing & Investigations.
• WADA will be responsible for publishing information on suspect personnel, which will be made available to athletes. There is a need to be able to sanction athlete support people, such as the legal profession, medical profession, parents, teachers, sport administrators, etc.
• Following the efforts of the working group on the ineffectiveness of testing, WADA will be releasing a technical document on test distribution planning, after the World Conference on Doping in Sport in November.
• Protocols relating to storage mean that samples can now be stored for ten rather than eight years, due to recent re-analysis of samples revealing past anti-doping rule violations (e.g. Lance Armstrong).
• WADA will act as mediator where there is a disagreement between an international federation and a national anti-doping organisation about who should be responsible for testing at an event. “Bodies can both test in a mutually acceptable way”.
• WADA is disappointed at the “paucity” of the number of registered blood sample collections & is disappointed at the number of samples tested for erythropoietin (EPO).
• Education programmes needed by all signatories to the Code (WADA is keen to focus on testing and compliance – click here for a World Sports Law Report news article on this).
• Compliance – stakeholders have asked for WADA to set the bar high rather than low. A focus on “quality rather than quantity”.
• Many athletes take supplements regularly as part of their training programme. In the UK, UK Anti-Doping and national associations are well-funded, helpful and informed. Batches of supplements are sent to labs to confirm that they aren’t contaminated. This is not the case in the majority of jurisdictions.
• The European Union should look at regulating the supplement industry.
• “Personal view is that athletes who have the resources to do decent checks really have no comeback”.
• The burden of proof for establishing a contaminated supplement is likely to be high.
• Every clean athlete wants to know that everyone in their competition has the same anti-doping burden. At the moment, this is not the case and this needs to be addressed.
• Suggestion of tiered harmonisation of anti-doping programmes. Perhaps the top five nations in a particular sport need more stringent anti-doping programmes than those who struggle to qualify.
• Compliance requirements need to be tougher, especially for those nations at the top.
• Athletes are willing to accept the anti-doping burden, as long as the system is fair.
• New WADA phone application is helping athletes comply with whereabouts requirements. Some athletes want GPS on smartphones to be used as whereabouts, through fear of forgetting to file a change (Adam Pengilly said this has happened to him and lots of other athletes). Other athletes find this idea horrifying.
• WADA is putting together a compliance programme which will be published next year.
• Athletes welcome an increased focus on athlete support personnel. However, it will be a big challenge to prove their involvement in causing an athlete to dope. Even so, if these people are not caught, anti-doping authorities will be failing in their duty, as conspirators ought to be brought to justice.
The Tackling Doping webinar was organised as a precursor to Tackling Doping in Sport, a two-day annual conference organised by World Sports Law Report in association with UK Anti-Doping. The conference will take place 19-20 March at Wembley Stadium. For more information, click here.