More than 1,000 delegates convened in Johannesburg yesterday for the much-anticipated first full day of the Fourth World Conference on Doping in Sport.
Members of the anti-doping community, sport movement, governments, athletes and media began the day by listening in to speeches from Fikile Mbalula, the Minister of Sport and Recreation for South Africa, Thomas Bach, President of the IOC, and the WADA President John Fahey. This was followed by an overview of the World Anti-Doping Code Review Process delivered by Richard Young and Ulrich Haas of the WADA Code Project Team, before an endorsement of the Code from the Former President of the European Court of Human Rights, Judge Jean Paul Costa, in relation to the compatibility of key provisions of the revised Code with the accepted principles of international law and human rights.
Conference participants from both the sport movement and Public Authorities were provided with an opportunity to deliver three-minute interventions in relation to the revised Code. Throughout the interventions, there was strong support for the revised Code from the vast majority of the speakers.
This included several athlete representatives: former Olympic Gold medalist Beckie Scott, Argentinean Rugby Player Felipe Contepomi, IPC Athletes Council Chair Todd Nicholson, IOC Athletes Commission Chair Claudia Bokel and Three-time Olympian swimmer Matt Dunn who all called for stronger action. Proposed themes from the revised Code – including greater sanctions while maintaining flexibility in specific circumstances, and testing in relation to risk assessment – were, on the whole, supported.
A number of participants advocated the need for a new focus on intelligence and investigations, another of the themes outlined in the revised Code proposed for ratification on Friday. A number of interveners welcomed the greater emphasis put in the revised Code on the importance of maintaining a balance between athletes’ rights and an effective fight against doping in sport, and, overall, the consensus for protecting the rights of clean athletes.
The interventions from the Sport Movement were delivered by athletes, as well as representatives of the International Olympic Committee (including President Thomas Bach) and the International Paralympic Committee, International Sport Federations, National Olympic Committees and laboratories.
Many Public Authority interventions were submitted from participants – including National Anti-Doping Organizations – representing countries all across the world. A number of the interventions were made from the African nations, including Cote d’Ivoire and the Republic of Congo. Many high profile figures from Public Authorities attended the intervention session.
Interventions will continue during Sessions 6 (Sport Movement) and 7 (Public Authority) today, before four sessions dedicated to the International Standards begin.