The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) advanced strategies to combat doping in sport this weekend at the annual May meetings of its Executive Committee and Foundation Board.
The Foundation Board discussed the importance of investigations in increasing the effectiveness of the fight against doping. Said WADA President John Fahey, AC: “Our investigations strategy, launched by WADA in 2006, is based on the recognition that doping controls do not catch all cheaters and that evidence gathered by enforcement agencies and others, shared in a legally appropriate manner with anti-doping and sport authorities helps to uncover anti-doping rule violations that might otherwise escape detection.”
To this end, WADA hosted in Sydney in early May, with the support of the Australian Government, a Third Investigations Symposium convening senior level experts from sport, government and law enforcement agencies from around the world to continue the development of protocols for sharing evidence among the various parties. The protocols will be finalized in the coming months.
Government Role in the Fight against Doping
Governments’ active engagement in anti-doping was highlighted during the meetings: “Public authorities are embracing the critical responsibilities they have to combat doping through their contributions and participation in WADA, and many other activities at the national level,” said Fahey, himself a representative of governments in the joint sport-government partnership that is WADA. “Governments recognize that elite athletes are not the only victims of the detrimental effects of doping and that the tentacles of doping have infiltrated youth culture and broader society around the world. It is an issue of greater public health that must be confronted.”
As of May 10, 2008, governments have fulfilled more than 87 percent of 2008 contributions, which is in line with the rate of contribution in 2007 and 10 percent above the contributions received by the same date in 2006. The International Olympic Committee (IOC), on behalf of the Sports Movement, matches government contributions dollar-for-dollar.
A joint research project with UNESCO was announced for the collection of legislation in countries around the world which outlaw the manufacture, distribution and possession of performance enhancing substances. “Inconsistency exists among countries in the treatment of the production, use and distribution of doping substances, which confounds international efforts to curtail the dissemination of these substances—substances that have been banned by the international community as part of the Prohibited List,” continued Fahey. “The joint project with UNESCO will help us gain a better understanding of the current landscape so that those countries lacking adequate enforcement mechanisms can be encouraged to update their laws.”
Under the UNESCO International Convention against Doping in Sport—unanimously approved by the 191 members of the UNESCO General Assembly in October 2005 and to date ratified by 83 individual countries—governments must ensure that laws against the manufacture and distribution of doping substances are in place, the penalties for breaking these laws are sufficiently stringent and that the laws are enforced as such.
In a related matter, the WADA Executive Committee approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to be signed with Interpol, the world’s largest police organization, for the two organizations to work together in combating the trafficking of performance-enhancing drugs. The MOU will now be delivered to Interpol to be approved by its executive bodies.
World Anti-Doping Code (Code) Compliance
WADA presented an interim Code compliance report to the Foundation Board. 2008 is the first year in which signatories to the 2003 Code must officially report their status in relation to Code compliance. The Code requires that signatories report to WADA every second year, explaining reasons for any non-compliance. In November this year, WADA will, for the first time, through its Foundation Board, report on cases of non-compliance to stakeholders, including the IOC, who have jurisdiction to impose sanctions. The Olympic Charter was amended in 2003 so that adoption of the Code by the Olympic Movement is mandatory and that only Code-compliant sports can be included and remain in the program of the Olympic Games.
“WADA is collaborating closely with stakeholders to provide information and models that help them fill any gaps in their programs, as our ultimate objective is for all stakeholders to be implementing fully compliant anti-doping programs for the benefit of clean athletes around the world,” said WADA Director General David Howman. “It is our expectation that all anti-doping organizations falling short now will expedite their compliance and fulfill their commitments to their athletes.”
Revised Code and International Standards
Fahey commended the considerable work of stakeholders and staff involved in the consultation for the revision of the Code and International Standards: “Every effort was made over the past two years to solicit and incorporate the good experience and advice of stakeholders in the strengthening of anti-doping rules and procedures. This monumental task was performed with the utmost respect for everyone’s views and for achieving a final outcome that would benefit those who have a vested interest in the integrity of sport and the health of athletes.”
Since its initial adoption in 2003 by Sport and Governments as the framework for the global harmonized fight against doping in sport, the Code has proven to be a fair and effective tool for combating doping. WADA launched a process to refine the Code's provisions and strengthen worldwide anti-doping programs in April 2006. Consultations extended over 18 months and involved 3 rounds of review with 3 successive draft revisions of the Code distributed to all stakeholders for feedback. In addition, WADA sought input from various stakeholder groups, which included initiating 40 individual meetings and 70 presentations. The process for participating in the consultations was made public and transparent via WADA's Web site and communications to stakeholders. Each draft revision of the Code was published online along with the official submissions made by stakeholders in response to the drafts.
In parallel to the revision of the Code is the revision of the International Standards, which are aimed at bringing harmonization among anti-doping organizations (ADOs) responsible for specific technical and operational parts of the anti-doping programs. Adherence to the International Standards is mandatory for signatories to the Code.
The Executive Committee approved the revised International Standard for Testing (IST), which promotes a standardized approach for ADOs to plan effective testing and to maintain the integrity and identity of the samples. The IST covers all aspects of testing, such as test distribution planning, preparing for and conducting sample collection, and transport of samples. The revised IST expands on the requirements for ADOS for establishing registered testing pools (RTPs) and collecting athlete whereabouts information, crucial for effective no-advance-notice out-of-competition testing. The Executive Committee also approved the revised International Standard for Therapeutic Use Exemptions.
These revised International Standards, and an additional standard relating to privacy protection to be presented to the Executive Committee at its September 2008 meeting, will come into force on January 1, 2009, along with the revised Code.
In reporting on his visit to China in April 2008, Mr Fahey stated: “Based on our observations and discussions, I am pleased to say that the Chinese authorities are in an advanced state of preparedness for a high-quality comprehensive anti-doping program in Beijing. WADA is pleased to play a supporting role by participating in the pre-Games testing task force with the IOC and the Organizing Committee, as well as sending an Independent Observers mission to monitor the doping control process throughout the Games. We will also have our Athlete Outreach program on hand during the Games to promote understanding and support of clean sport among athletes and officials.”
Science & Medicine
In the area of science, collaboration has been initiated with external organizations such as pharmaceutical companies and drug agencies to improve early identification of potentially doping substances among new drugs in clinical development. Similarly, a collaborative agreement has been forged with the International Federation of Sports Medicine (FIMS) for the proper education of doctors practicing sports medicine in relation to doping substances.
The Executive Committee recommended the continuation of WADA’s strategy in relation to the Athlete’s Passport. Specifically, WADA will continue its three-part approach involving research, harmonization and monitoring. In the area of research, WADA will continue its involvement in different research and development programs to continue to advance the science behind the concept. According to WADA’s global mandate to harmonize the fight against doping, WADA will continue to provide help and assistance to anti-doping organizations interested in implementing the method by continuing to refine and harmonize various technical and practical elements relating to the programs (e.g. protocols for analysis and a special module in ADAMS for data management). Finally, WADA will monitor the implementation of these programs to ensure compliance with the Code.
Results Management Responsibilities
The Executive Committee directed WADA management to facilitate a process with International Federations and National Anti-Doping Organizations to review responsibilities in results management and criteria for ensuring consistency and harmony in processes managed by ADOs, including in relation to sanctions and appeals. The subject arose during the discussion of litigation costs to the Agency in which certain IFs had failed to follow-through on responsibilities to anti-doping in the respective sports and left it to the international agency to bear the burden of time and costs.
WADA reported on a new initiative in the area of education. Noting that education, targeting all ages but youth in particular, is the key to preventing doping from occurring in the first place and is the most critical strategy for creating long-term success, WADA has undertaken the development of a youth education program based on Spirit of Sport values, incorporating scenario-based activities for decision-making in line with these values, and within a fun and engaging environment.
Momentum in the adoption of ADAMS by stakeholders was reported on by WADA management. ADAMS (Anti-Doping Administration System) is the web-based database management system developed for stakeholders in their management of the doping control and results management process.
Board members were also informed of the development of Regional Anti-Doping Organizations (RADOs). Under this program, WADA initiates the creation of RADOs that will assume responsibility for anti-doping in areas of the world where there currently is limited or no anti-doping activity. The Agency works with stakeholders in the regions so that resources and expertise are shared in the establishment of anti-doping education and testing programs. A total of 15 RADOs have been created, engaging the participation of 122 countries. The ultimate objective is global coverage of harmonized Code-compliant anti-doping programs.
The Executive Committee asked management to undertake a review of Article 7 of the Agency’s Statutes to determine whether there exists ambiguity that would require revision.
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