9 March 2017

NADA Germany to suggest athlete GPS tracking as ADAMS replacement

Germany’s National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) is to put forward a suggestion that a GPS athlete tracking system could be used to replace the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) Anti-Doping Administration and Management System (ADAMS). The PARADISE (Privacy-Enhancing and Reliable Anti-Doping Integrated Service Environment) system has been developed in association with the Schleswig-Holstein State Centre for Data Protection and will be put suggested to WADA Director General Olivier Niggli at a meeting in Lausanne next week.

“I will talk to Olivier at a meeting in Lausanne about that topic and I think its pretty good for the whole community”, said Lars Mortsiefer, NADA Germany’s Legal Director, at the Tackling Doping in Sport conference in London today. “We have ADAMS in place, and that will be in place for a couple of years at least. If WADA accept another system then that’s OK, but we have not seen this yet. Therefore we have to develop the GPS system on the one hand, and on the other we have to strengthen up the ADAMS system. Maybe at the end it could be a replacement, but I think that there’s a long way to go.”

WADA’s ADAMS is an online system that allows anti-doping organisations (ADOs) to record and plan athlete testing. It is also used by athletes within an ADO’s Registered Testing Pool (RTP) to record where they will be available for testing for one in every 24 hours – often known as their ‘whereabouts’ requirements. Under Article 2.4 of the World Anti-Doping Code, ‘any combination of three missed tests and/or filing failures, as defined in the International Standard for Testing and Investigations [ISTI], within a twelve-month period’ constitutes a ‘whereabouts failure’, and is subject to a two-year ban (Article 10.3.2 of the Code).

Back in 2013, European body the Article 29 Data Protection Working Party, which is made up of European data protection government ministers, warned that the then planned 2015 World Anti-Doping Code and ISTI did not respect European data protection laws, outlining a number of specific issues including the ‘whereabouts’ requirements. Concerns that ADAMS may not be adequately protecting data have been amplified by hacks into anti-doping systems by Fancy Bears. There are also concerns that ADAMS may not be compliant with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, which comes into force on 25 May 2018.

Jonas Plass, a 400m runner and researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute and the Technical University of Berlin developed Project PARADISE, which involves a wearable GPS tag that will allow Doping Control Officers (DCOs) to locate athletes for testing, while freeing athletes from the rigmarole and privacy dangers of having to enter their exact location into ADAMS. The system works by initially giving an athlete’s rough location to a DCO, who receives the exact location once they are within four kilometres of the athlete. It also features designated private areas (such as graveyards) and allows athletes to add private areas where they cannot be located by a DCO.

“It is a good idea from Jonas to come up with a system developed by the athletes for the athletes”, says Mortsiefer. “Never underestimate the feelings and the situation of the athletes. The big problem with using ADAMS is that we have over 1,000 athletes sending emails with issues such as being unable to log in. After the Fancy Bears attacks they changed the whole system and athletes are angry. We have to find a solution because if they phone me or my colleagues, we have to deal with that as we cannot change anything. That’s quite frustrating. If it is secure and it is safe – and a public authority has said that it is safe – then that’s the best that we can do. Because they also say that ADAMS is not safe at the moment.”

Mortsifer said that NADA Germany has supported the PARADISE system for three or four years. “It’s good to work with the data protection authorities and I am very glad that they accept the new system”, he explains. “For years I have talked to them and asked them to give us an alternative to ADAMS. Do not criticise our system without giving us an alternative. Perhaps we cannot change it internationally, but if you have an alternative then that’s good. Maybe we can bring it forward to WADA and something will change.”

However, he admits that the system is not without its issues. “If you have a local server, then you can have the data protection regulations from Germany, but on the other hand, you have a tracking system, and the possibility for misuse is huge. Almost daily there is news about smart TVs, tablets, phones etc. It’s good to have a system in place that can locate you when you are 50 or 100 metres from the DCO [doping control officer], but then somebody could misuse that data and that creates new problems.”

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