Press releases 21st June 2016

WOA calls for three point anti-doping plan to eliminate cheats

• anti-doping testing that is fully independent of countries/sports/event organisers;
• a permanent mechanism to allow clean athletes to compete even if their country/sport is sanctioned;
• dramatically increased funding for research into improved anti-doping testing.

In order to protect the rights of clean athletes to compete and to totally eliminate drug cheats from elite sport the World Olympians Association, the organisation that represents the 100,000 living Olympians, has called for a three-point anti-doping plan to be adopted by sports governing bodies, governments and event organisers. The three point plan is designed to ensure that sport can eventually fully rid itself of the scourge of drug cheats while at the same time ensuring that those athletes who are proven clean can compete at major events even if their sport or country is sanctioned because of the deficiency of their testing systems.

WOA President Joel Bouzou said: “The current system does not work for anyone. Athletes cannot prove on an ongoing basis that they are clean, not enough drug cheats are getting caught which means those who don’t cheat are disadvantaged and there is no mechanism in place to separate the clean athlete from a sport or country with a corrupt or incompetent system which taints all their athletes, whether clean or dirty. The present situation presents world sport with a great opportunity to fix a system which patently does not fully function and to move toward a situation which everyone wants: a real level playing field for all. While WOA is fully committed to supporting the rights of clean athletes to be able to compete at all major events it is also fully committed to the total elimination of drug cheats as they affect the rights of our members to compete in a fair and equal contest.”

The WOA plan has three pillars: fully independent testing; a permanent mechanism to allow clean athletes to compete and dramatically increased funding for research into improved drug testing. Currently, most drug testing is carried out under the auspices of countries, sports federations or event organisers. WOA believes that only fully independent testing can be totally effective and credible in the fight against drug cheats.

“No matter how good testing under the current situation may be, we believe that only fully independent testing can eliminate the drug cheats. It is also the only solution that would be credible in the eyes of clean athletes and the public,” says WOA President Joel Bouzou. “There can be no suspicion that a drug testing system is not trying its hardest to eliminate the cheats or is actually involved in helping cheats prosper at the expense of those who have worked so hard to reach the top while playing by the rules and respecting the rights of their fellow athletes.”

“In the current situation it is impossible for an athlete to truly prove that they are clean,” explains Bouzou. “They can only prove that at a given point in time they are not dirty. That is why we are calling for a massive increase in funding for research into improved anti-doping methods. So that a way can eventually be discovered to prove on an ongoing basis that an athlete is clean. That would have a huge impact on sport and would finally eliminate the cheats forever. As an interim step we must ensure that we stay one step ahead of the cheats and that needs increased funding to improve anti-doping technology and to increase the number and frequency of out of competition testing.”

The final pillar of the WOA three-point plan is designed to make sure that the rights of clean athletes to compete are fully respected. WOA is calling for a permanent mechanism to be in place so that if a country or sport is sanctioned their athletes can be quickly and efficiently tested in an uncompromised system and if proven clean can compete at the Olympic Games and other major competitions. “We must be proactive rather than reactive when negative situations arise,” says Bouzou. “It is only fair to the vast majority of athletes who are clean that a system should be in place as soon as possible to allow them to quickly prove that they are clean so that they can prepare for and compete in major events unburdened by the additional worry that comes with the uncertainty of the current system.”

“We are confident that the IOC will do everything in its power to ensure that the rights of clean athletes are respected and will take all possible measures to allow clean athletes to compete at the Olympic Games in Rio. Our aim is to support the IOC in that process, both in the short and the long-term. The IOC’s commitment to athletes is clear and well demonstrated by its actions including the Agenda 2020 Programme.”

Bouzou concluded: “Clean athletes have the right to compete no matter what. The current system allows the cheats to prosper and disadvantages the clean athletes in so many ways. We must work hand in hand with the IOC and others toward the elimination of cheating in sport with determination and vigour. We must protect the rights of clean athletes. We believe that our proposed three-point plan can help eliminate the cheats while protecting the rights of clean athletes.”

• This media release was originally published on the internet site of the World Olympians Association (WOA) on 20 June 2016. To access the original, please click here.

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