Francisco Boza is President of the Americas Sports Council (CADE) and earlier this year was elected to WADA’s Executive Committee. He represented Peru in sports shooting at seven consecutive Olympic Games, collecting a silver medal at Los Angeles 1984. WADA recently caught up with the former Olympian to hear his views on anti-doping in the Americas region.
You are the President of the Americas Sports Council (CADE) - what are your main priorities in this role, and how high up the agenda does anti-doping sit?
FB: Our main priorities are to promote the development of sport in all senses, not only by improving sporting results but by creating a better sport culture across the whole region.
The Americas have a great diversity in terms of sport development, so we take advantage of this situation, some countries can learn better practices from countries within our own region and similar scenarios. We are working to improve sport governance, to continue doing research and promoting values through sport.
The anti-doping issue is very high up our agenda since this is a topic that has extended to almost every aspect of sport development. We need to raise awareness of it in the region as well as to continue promoting anti-doping research and education. The implementation of the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code is a great challenge and I am confident that we will be able to do it promptly in our region.
You were appointed to WADA's Executive Committee this year - what have you been able to achieve during your time on the Committee?
FB: WADA has a major role in sports across the globe, and we are working very hard with our main stakeholders to keep sport activities and our athletes doping-free. In this sense, one of the biggest achievements I have seen is the increase in Government contribution towards the Research Fund. The IOC has very kindly offered to match their contribution, and with this we will ensure that anti-doping research remains ongoing and always keeps us one step ahead in the quest for clean sport.
In addition, we have Governments, Public Authorities and NADOs committing to their domestic regulations so that they are ready for the implementation of the revised Code.
As a former athlete and Olympic Silver medallist, you are able to bring a unique perspective to your anti-doping work - from where did you develop your passion for promoting clean sport?
FB: One of the best ways to learn and spread values is through practising sports at any level, because one not only hears about them but lives them each and every day in training and competition. My parents were always very close to sports; they encouraged me throughout my career and also taught me important values that I was able to practice when representing my country. I was proudly part of my national team for more than 30 years and I have become increasingly convinced that clean sport is possible.
Did you encounter any first hand experiences of doping that affected you during your days as an athlete?
FB: I still remember my first anti-doping test, I was very nervous as I am sure most athletes are when they are first tested. With time and experience I became more accustomed to tests but it didn’t affect my performance. At the time I passed the controls, the samples were only taken at the end of the competition before the award ceremony. Nowadays the procedures have changed - with more selective and out-of-competition testing, just to mention a few changes - so athletes need to be informed to make the right choices and not be surprised or affected by controls.
What else could athletes do today to help promote clean sport?
FB: Above all, I think they need to fully realize the importance they have within society. Thanks to the media, and now with the popularity of social media, athletes have become very influential role models that can contribute positively to fair play and the promotion of clean sport.
The more experienced athletes are now getting more involved in educational programmes directed towards young athletes. It is always nice to hear stories from fellow athletes and from someone that the young look up to and, in this way, the young athletes are more committed to clean sport from the very start.
Are athletes hesitant in speaking up in favor of clean sport?
FB: The new generation of athletes is already aware of anti-doping issues, so for them it is more the norm to talk about, and speak up for clean sport. It is important to keep engaging athletes to promote fair play values by supporting educational programs with fun and exciting activities for the young, and also through programs directed at the multidisciplinary teams that work with them.
What are the main priorities for anti-doping in your region as we embark on the next chapter of anti-doping?
FB: 2015 will be a challenging year. In order to implement the revised Code, some Governments need to adapt their internal regulations to fully comply with the Code. At this moment in time, this is our main priority alongside the development of other key WADA activities.
Governments and NADOs in our region are already working very closely with WADA’s Legal Office and starting to make some changes in their regulations that will lead to a smooth transition with the revised Code in each and every country.