The Institute of National Anti-Doping Organisations (iNADO) has concluded a dynamic and thought-provoking Athlete + Leader Symposium dedicated to “Making Anti-Doping Better.” Athletes and NADO Leaders exchanged many ideas at the Symposium that will make anti-doping better:
- Athletes have been, and can and should be, leaders of anti-doping programmes and organisations.
- Athletes and their organisations must be able to speak freely and independently on how best to protect clean sport, and be able to constructively criticise anti-doping organisations and others failing to do their jobs.
- NADOs must be dedicated to seeking athlete advice in formulating and executing best-practice anti-doping. That includes technological innovation. The majority of athletes would be open to the possibility of GPS technology in place of ADAMS for whereabouts. Participants support the practice of dried blood spot sample collection technique and look forward to continued improvements in the technology. Given the number of well-established paperless doping control systems, WADA must move immediately to create a data management interface to enable NADOs to transfer electronically to ADAMS the data in their control.
- It is the loss of medals, and the honour of being on the podium, that hurts most when doping robs clean athletes. Sport must make this right as best it can, for example through appropriate new medal ceremonies. The personal violation, the financial losses, the loss of faith in sport organisations, and the loss of faith in sport as a power for the good, are also heart-breaking effects of doping on clean athletes.
- Perhaps dopers who are eligible to return to competition should never again be permitted to stand on the podium, to receive prize money or to hold national or world records.
- Former dopers do have a role in anti-doping. They can be powerful educators, and can provide important intelligence about doping. But they must be genuinely remorseful including apologising publicly for the hurt they have caused to clean athletes and to their sports. They should not get reduced sanctions for their contributions to anti-doping but should do so for their own rehabilitation and because it is the moral and ethical thing to do.
- NADOs must remain vigilant against any form of corruption of anti-doping. They must have measures to prevent, detect, cure and punish corruption.
- NADOs must redouble their efforts to provide state-of-the-art data protection for personal and confidential athlete information.
- No regulator, including the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and NADOs, can operate without its stakeholders committed to reporting misconduct. But as things stand, some athletes feel that investigative journalists are more effective than anti-doping organisations in pursuing organisational misconduct and corruption in anti-doping.
- Creating a culture of reporting and intervening – or whistleblowing – when doping is observed is complex, needs more study and requires more promotion of existing reporting mechanisms. Reporting presents a moral dilemma, pitting personal belief in the values of clean sport against personal loyalties to team mates, support personnel and even to fellow competitors. Individuals may be more comfortable confronting directly those they suspect of or observe doping, rather than reporting to authorities. Those who do report must be taken seriously, must be kept informed and supported, and must be protected from possible retaliation.
- There is significant inequity in anti-doping around the world. Athletes believe that well-developed NADOs must help weaker NADOs (and International Federations who lack a robust anti-doping program) provide fit-for-purpose anti-doping. Governments have an interest in protecting their own athletes by funding such assistance.
- NADOs and their athletes very much want the new Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) to succeed and to provide credible anti-doping protection to Russian athletes. But for international trust in the new RUSADA, it will be judged by its actions and performance, not by its words. It must “walk the talk.” The signs are promising, but trust will take time.
- The prevalence of doping is not well-enough understood and, therefore, the effectiveness of anti-doping programmes (both deterrence and detection) is difficult to assess. For example, much more work is needed analysing athlete and sport performance data, and using are best-existing survey techniques to explore athlete attitudes, behavior and observations.
- Just as athletes are subject to sanctions for doping under the World Anti-Doping Code, so should organisations (and their leaders) which fail to meet their Code requirements.
- Without relaxing the personal responsibility for individual athletes to avoid doping, the anti-doping system must recognise that in some teams, and sports, and countries, athletes have no choice and are forced to dope or forced out of sport.
- The Code itself needs a thorough and top-to-bottom review to determine improvements for its 2021 version. For example, the athletes felt strongly that coaches and trainers are the single most significant source of pressure to dope and the Code does not do nearly enough to hold them to account. The Code’s anti-doping rule violation of “prohibited association” with dirty coaches or doctors is seen as ineffective.
- The time has come for an Athlete Charter of Rights addressing doping and other matters.
The 2017 iNADO Athlete & Leader Symposium was hosted with great hospitality by the Berlinger Group Switzerland. It included over 20 elite athletes from able-bodied and para-sport (many of them Olympic or Paralympic medalists, or World Champions), and leaders from the 37 NADOs of Andorra, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Barbados, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Cameroon, Canada, China, Croatia, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States.
• This media release was originally published by the Institute of National Anti-Doping Organisations (iNADO) on 31 October 2017. To access the original, please click here.