The World Anti-Doping Agency’s President, Sir Craig Reedie, and Director General, Olivier Niggli, were in Paris, France, this week to take part in the 6th UNESCO Conference of Parties (Conference) that was held on 25 and 26 September. The Conference, which is a statutory session that takes place on a bi-annual basis, addresses challenges on States Parties’ compliance with the provisions of the UNESCO International Convention Against Doping in Sport (Convention).
The Convention, which was adopted in 2005, is the legal instrument through which States Parties (governments) formalize their commitment to the World Anti-Doping Code (Code). At 99% global endorsement, the Convention is the second most successful one in the history of UNESCO in terms of the rhythm of ratification post adoption.
In his speech that launched day one of the Conference, WADA President, Sir Craig Reedie, thanked UNESCO for its collaboration and urged States Parties to renew their pledge to Clean Sport. “Over the last 15 years, WADA, UNESCO, governments and the sport movement have built a solid global anti-doping system,” said Reedie. “The Code and the Convention are robust and complementary instruments,” he continued. “The Convention focuses on what governments can do; while, the Code, focuses on the Code rules and how they can be enforced. Regardless of our success, we must all do more. WADA is moving forward and States Parties are encouraged to move in the same direction.”
Reedie closed his address by saying, “You are all representatives of your respective countries and, in particular, of your athletes. The discussions that you will have over these two days, and the decisions that you take, will shape the future for your athletes. This meeting represents a pivotal opportunity to strengthen the Convention. I would ask you to keep your current and future athletes top of mind during your deliberations. They make us proud every day through their excellence and perseverance…we owe them ‘our best’ in order to protect their right to clean sport.”
On day two, under the theme ‘Clean Sport – A Shared Responsibility’, Olivier Niggli reemphasized the importance of increased collaboration between WADA and UNESCO in order to “demonstrate through our actions that we are coordinated and determined -- along with the broader anti-doping community -- to prevent, deter and detect doping in sport; and, build athlete confidence and trust in the anti-doping system.” In particular, Niggli made an appeal to States Parties that they do more in the areas of education, information sharing and development of a regime of consequences for States Parties; which, were all the subject of adopted resolutions that were put forward by States Parties from Japan, Chile and Denmark respectively.
Niggli then took delegates through WADA’s 2017 priorities, which aim to build an Agency that is fit for the future; details of which, can be found in the Agency’s 2016 Annual Report.
To close out his presentation, Niggli provided a status update regarding WADA’s independent McLaren Investigation (that revealed institutionalized manipulation of the anti-doping system in Russia); and, progress regarding RUSADA’s Roadmap to Code Compliance. On the latter topic, Niggli was very clear that, “Since November 2015, when RUSADA was first declared non-compliant with the Code, as a result of WADA’s independent Pound Commission, WADA and its partners have been working diligently to rebuild a credible and sustainable anti-doping system in Russia.” Niggli emphasized that “WADA is unwavering in its focus on completion of the Roadmap; and that, Russian authorities know exactly what is needed to get there.”
About the Conference
The Conference has overall responsibility for implementation of the Convention. Its objectives include:
- monitoring of compliance with the Convention;
- examining and adopting amendments to the Convention; and
- determining how resources of the Fund for the Elimination of Doping in Sport will be used.
In addition to States Parties and other Member States of UNESCO, WADA is invited as an advisory organization to the Conference. The International Olympic Committee (IOC), the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), the Council of Europe (COE), the Intergovernmental Committee for Physical Education and Sport (CIGEPS) and other intergovernmental sports organizations are also invited as observers.
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Photo credit © UNESCO/Christelle ALIX