15 May 2011

WADA releases guidelines for investigations and evidence sharing

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) today outlined plans for a more concerted effort in the fight against doping in sport by releasing guidelines designed to enhance the cooperation between Anti-Doping Organizations (ADOs) and law enforcement agencies.

The ‘Coordinating Investigations and Sharing Anti-Doping Information and Evidence’ document was presented to WADA’s Executive Committee and Foundation Board at their meetings in Montreal on May 14 and 15 respectively.

“For some time now we have been saying that testing alone is not enough to lead the fight against doping in sport, and that ADOs need to develop relationships with law enforcement agencies across the world,” said WADA President John Fahey.

“This guidance document is not a model of best practice, nor is it proposed to be a formal part of the world anti-doping program, but it is designed to indicate how each agency might be approached by an ADO, and how sensible relationships can be formed – it is a guideline in that direction.”

The document is the result of a series of investigations symposia held to establish a way forward in the sharing of information between government-based and -funded enforcement agencies and ADOs.

The initial symposium was hosted by the United States Olympic Committee and United States Anti-Doping Agency in Colorado Springs. It was followed by subsequent meetings in London, hosted by UK Sport, and in Sydney, hosted by Australia’s Government and Anti-Doping Agency.

The document, which contains case studies that highlight the benefits of multi-agency cooperation, was finalized at the last of the symposia in Sydney late last month.

Included in the document are case studies on the close cooperation between WADA, the International Olympic Committee and Italian Carabinieri that led to the seizure of doping items at the 2006 Turin Olympics, as well as the highly-successful BALCO case in the United States that resulted in the strengthening of sentencing guidelines for trafficking anabolic steroids.

“We are showing ADOs how to best harness the powers of public authorities in the fight against doping in sport - not all rules violations are analytical while there are many upstream perpetrators who fall outside sport’s jurisdiction,” added Mr. Fahey.

“It is in all our interests to try and ensure that national anti-doping laws encompass all doping substances, and that any legal obstacles that prevent the sharing of information are removed.”

Code Compliance and Code Revision Plan

Members at both meetings were given an interim report on compliance to the World Anti-Doping Code – the fundamental set of rules harmonizing the global fight against doping in sport.

The official report will be presented to WADA’s Foundation Board during its November meeting in Montreal, but interim key indicators showed a significant increase since November 2010 of countries that now have rules in line with the Code.

Members were given examples of how WADA has assisted Code Signatories, and included advice on Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs), legal matters and the Anti-Doping Athlete Management System (ADAMS), as well as support from WADA testing managers, WADA Regional Offices, Regional Anti-Doping Organizations (RADOs) and the WADA International Federations Office in Lausanne.

“WADA acknowledges the enormous progress that has been made by Signatories to the World Anti-Doping Code during the last two years, especially in regard to the implementation of rules,” said WADA Director General David Howman.

“We are aware that there is still progress to be made with the implementation of Code compliant programs and we will continue to provide active assistance to all Signatories, both in the long-term and looking ahead to the official compliance report in November.”

The Foundation Board also approved a recommendation for a Code Review Process and Timeline, a three-phase process involving extensive periods of stakeholder consultation starting in January 2012 and culminating at the World Conference on Doping in Johannesburg in November 2013.

Athlete Biological Passport

Both meetings were also given a presentation on the Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) and the progress made since the WADA Foundation Board approved harmonized protocols and operating guidelines in 2009.

In particular, it was highlighted how the ABP was proving to be a successful means of identifying possible anti-doping rules violations following its validation by court rulings in the cases of cyclists Pietro Caucchioli and Franco Pellizotti.

The CAS rulings showed that the ABP can withstand legal and scientific challenges and, as stated in the Caucchioli decision, how the ABP is now considered a valid and reliable method for indirectly indentifying doping.

“These two rulings gave a significant boost to the ABP and we look forward to supporting more and more ADOs who wish to implement this robust method into their anti-doping programs,” said Mr. Howman.

“We have seen how effective the ABP can be, and WADA will be encouraging all its signatories to increase the number of blood tests included in their programs.

“Not only is it vital for ABPs, but there are prohibited substances that can only be identified through blood testing.”

MOU between WADA and World Customs Organisation

Also announced at both meetings was a memorandum of understanding between WADA and the World Customs Organization (WCO), which came about after a meeting in Montreal in January, 2011.

The agreement will mirror the understanding already in place between WADA and international intelligence agency Interpol, and will serve as a further step in a more coherent approach to the fight against doping in sport.

International Standard on Protection of Privacy and Personal Information

A decision was granted during the meetings on WADA proposals regarding the Retention Times of athlete data and samples so it becomes an annex to the International Standard on Protection of Privacy and Personal Information.

The recommendation had already received the support of the Ad hoc European Committee for the World Anti-Doping Agency (CAHAMA) expert group on Anti-Doping and Data Protection, and was in response to a proposal in May 2010 put forward by the Council of Europe.

Next Meetings

The next meeting of WADA’s Executive Committee will be in Lausanne on September 17, while the Executive Committee and Foundation Board will meet again in Montreal on November 19 and 20 respectively.