Dr. Kim Chong is the Vice Minister for the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MCST) in the Republic of Korea. WADA caught up with Dr. Kim as his home country prepared to host Asia’s sporting elite at the XVII Asiad in Incheon.
You were elected onto the WADA Foundation Board in 2014 – what kind of platform has this given you to represent the Republic of Korea, and what have you been able to achieve during this time?
KC: With WADA now playing a big role in leading the anti-doping movement throughout the world, Korea is also taking strides in expanding its role in the world anti-doping movement. With my being elected to the WADA Foundation Board, Korea has an opportunity to strengthen and expand its anti-doping activities internationally. This approach will focus particularly on assisting developing countries to establish their own anti-doping organizations. We in Korea acknowledge that the government’s role and function in eradicating doping in sports is expanding, and therefore we are committed to take bigger steps in leading the anti-doping movement. From this perspective, I believe being elected to the WADA Foundation Board is a significant starting point in helping lead this movement.
Explain the anti-doping structure in the Republic of Korea – in terms of legislation, policies and how this filters down to the NADO, federations and, ultimately, the young through education?
KC: In order to conduct effective anti-doping activities, we established the Korean Anti-doping Agency in Korea on 13 November 2006. It became a public institution based on the National Sports Promotion Act.
In addition, the Korean government ratified the UNESCO International Convention against Doping in Sport in February 2007, and enacted the ‘Korea Anti-Doping Code’ in June 2007. All signatories under the Korean Olympic Committee and Korean Paralympics Committee compel athletes to comply with the Code as a qualification for participating in competitions.
How much understanding is there of anti-doping in Korea, particularly within the athlete community?
KC: From 1968 to 2014, no Korean Olympians were sanctioned for violating doping rules. However, there have been a number of doping violation cases in domestic competitions. (2011: 22 cases; 2012: 15 cases; 2013: 16 cases). After discovering that some athletes had acted negligently in violating the rules, we increased our anti-doping education efforts. In this regard, we have also collaborated with the Ministry of Education and KADA annually since 2009 to carry out anti-doping education in 16 physical education middle and high schools nationwide. Furthermore, from 2013, we strengthened anti-doping education targeted for the directors of national federations. More specifically, anti-doping education for national athletes and coaches became compulsory from this year, and as a result we expect awareness of anti-doping in sports among youth athletes to continue to grow.
You recently set up a clean sports committee to combat match fixing, and irregular and illegal betting – where does anti-doping fit in to this committee’s work?
KC: The MCST established a "Clean Sports Committee (CSC)", which is dedicated to protecting the integrity of sport, and eradicate match-fixing, doping, and anything which may threaten the integrity of sport. The Committee is in charge of managing and supervising cases of unfair conduct in sport, and takes fundamental measures to prevent any recurrence of such activities. Anti-doping is also one of the Committee’s priorities.
The CSC set up a ‘report center for major threats in sports’ which includes 'match-fixing', 'biased judgment', '(sexual) violence', and 'illicit college admissions and the privatization of sport federations’. Once an accusation from a whistleblower leads to criminal punishment, he or she is then rewarded. The report center also acts as the main center to gather information, educate, and research on the fairness and ethics in sports. We are currently exploring the possibility of extending the scope of the report center to include cases of intentional doping cheaters, and to establish a new tip-line with KADA in the near future.
You have talked in the past about prevention being more important than tough rules – can you explain this, and how you see preventative methods being carried out?
KC: There is a famous saying "to lock the stable door after the horse has bolted". To prevent the very factors that threaten the integrity of sport is more important than to tighten regulations once the rules have been violated. Worldwide anti-doping policies are also similar in this regard in focusing on prevention through education outreach programs. Effective prevention programs guarantee fair play in sports without strengthening regulations. This is why more emphasis is being put on various prevention strategies.
You also discussed the need for educational support for athletes – in what areas do athletes need educating?
KC: The MCST has drawn up a strategy to support the education program for athletes as part of the "Sports Vision 2018", a policy blueprint for the development of sports by 2018. By adopting this plan, the student athletes are guaranteed participation in school courses, and by taking part in ‘sport specialized classes’, the student athletes will be provided with practical study skills.
There are an ever increasing number of opportunities for athletes to participate in vocational training (there were 150 athletes in 2013 and the target is for 400 athletes in 2017) and training that enhances career changes and prepares athletes for retirement (90 athletes took part in 2013, and the aim is to extend this to 170 athletes in 2017). As anti-doping awareness increases, these types of courses are in the process of becoming customized in the high school curriculum from 2015.
The Korean sports industry is expected to be worth US $5.3 billion by 2018 – how will that be reached, and what further ambitions do you have for sport in your country?
KC: The Korean government recently announced a five-year plan to develop the sports sector by injecting a total of US $5.3 billion by 2018 (the size of the Korean sports industry in 2013 was US $ 3.7 billion). Under this plan, the government will combine sports with Korea's advanced IT so that more people can enjoy sports in an easy, convenient way – this will lead to the creation of new, bigger markets in sport sector. To achieve this goal, the MCST has proposed four main strategies: create a future-oriented sports industry market by mixing IT and sports; expand potential demand for sports; incubate promising sports industry start-ups; and create an eco-system that supports the sports industry. The MCST will set up funding systems that will provide opportunities for more firms to take part in sport. We will also help foster 20 promising enterprises in the sector every year, which will in turn help create 40,000 new sports industry jobs by 2018.
The Asian Games in Incheon are just weeks away – how significant are the Games for Korea?
KC: To date, the Asian Games - a festival for all Asians, have developed immensely, due in no small part to the OCA and its 45 members. The MCST believes one of its responsibilities is to help take the Asian Games to the next level. All members of the MCST, including myself, therefore, would like to take this opportunity to make a number of commitments. The 17th Incheon Asian Games will be more than a sports festival; it will be a platform for harmony and friendship. We will do our best to ensure that athletes display their full potential, making it a successful event where participants can also enjoy the tradition and culture of Korea. The MCST will work to achieve balanced sports development across Asia through the "VISION 2014" program, enabling athletes of countries with less sporting success to experience the joy of winning a medal. We are ready to host a successful Asian Games in 2014, which will leave a great legacy for the Republic of Korea.
What anti-doping measures do you have in place for the Games?
KC: Approximately 1,900 tests (1,750 urine samples and 150 blood samples) are set to be analyzed during the Games. KADA will dispatch approximately 70 professional anti-doping personnel (DCOs and BCOs) and, in addition there will be another 100 experts trained by the Organizing Committee will also collect test samples. Furthermore, WADA’s Athlete Committee will conduct anti-doping education Outreach promotional activities during the competition period. Above all, we are looking forward to sharing our anti-doping research outcomes through a presentation at the Incheon Asian Games international symposium. We, the Korean government, will provide government-level support for the anti-doping activities at the Incheon Asian Games in order to achieve a 100% record for a clean Asian Games.