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100,000 Elite Athletes Call for Fundamental Reform at WADA

Jan 4, 2015 | Uncategorized

UNI Sport PRO is the global platform of democratically elected and accountable Athlete Associations, representing between them, over 100 000 professional and elite athletes worldwide. A key issue that unites all top athletes is WADA reform and, as the WADA Code Review reaches its final stages and against the background of recent doping scandals, UNI Sport Pro wishes to make a number of important points:

  • The Lance Armstrong doping scandal and the Australian Crime Commission investigations demonstrate the ineffectiveness of the current WADA Testing regime.
  • Armstrong was not caught through testing, despite being frequently tested. 
  • Current rules and structures are inadequate to deal with corrupt cultures within sport organizations and the involvement of organized crime in doping.
  • Clean athletes want and need the anti-doping rules to be effective and proportionate.
  • Regrettably, the World Anti Doping Agency and its stakeholders are failing in their mission to protect clean athletes.
  • Anti-doping rules are not based on adequate evidence and research. Harmonization has become an excuse for mediocrity and a lack of accountability. The lack of a legitimate and independent athlete stakeholder within WADA is a fundamental governance deficit. Athletes have no effective say in WADA.
  • Anti-doping rules are based on the contractual relationship between athletes and sport organizations. Sport organizations are abusing their dominant position by excluding an independent athlete voice.
  • Athlete Commissions, held out as representative by WADA and the IOC, are internal structures within sport organizations and cannot independently represent athletes’ collective interests.
  • Democratically elected and accountable Athlete Associations are an important part of the solution and can help WADA increase its effectiveness.

UNI Sport Pro calls on WADA stakeholders – governments and sport organizations –to support reforms during the World Anti Doping Code revision process that will increase the effectiveness and proportionality of the fight against doping:

  • Prohibited List Criteria – Performance enhancement should be a mandatory property for all substances on the prohibited list.
  • ·No increase to a Four-year minimum sanction – Increasing the minimum sanction for a first offense will not increase the effectiveness of the system and open it up to legal challenge. The sanction is not proportionate and does not deter cheaters.
  • Independent Arbitration and procedural guarantees – Athletes must at least be protected by the procedural guarantees in Article 6 of the ECHR. When Independent arbitration is given legitimate consent by athletes, both parties in a dispute must beequally represented on the tribunal.
  • Data protection –Athlete associations are dismayed that WADA is lobbying for an exemption for athletes from new data protection rules in the E.U. The current system is not effective enough to justify the sacrifice of these fundamental rights.

Yves Kummer, President of EU Athletes, www.euathletes.org:“Athletes need this next version of the Code to deliver an effective and proportionate system. It is so tempting for politicians and administrators to look tough on doping by implementing ever more invasive and burdensome rules on athletes. But we now all see that doping cheats are being protected and groomed by corrupt sporting cultures, organized crime and even team doctors. It’s time for a new approach. Unfortunately, we are quite pessimistic that the current code revision will produce any dramatic change from the ineffective, testing based system already in place. For example, all athlete associations believe that it should be mandatory that a substance be performance enhancing for it to be on the prohibited list. Will they listen to the athletes? We doubt it.”

Ian Smith, Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations (FICA),www.thefica.com : “WADA has failed in its information clearinghouse role by not enforcing proper reporting by anti-doping organizations. It doesn’t even know the total number of violations worldwide. Without proper reporting, the monitoring of policies is impossible, as is the search for solutions. Much of what we hear coming out of the revision process appears to be based on sheer guesswork. We need the enforcement of reporting, proper impact assessments, research, evidence and monitoring before anybody starts talking about stricter sanctions. Also, research shows that the certainty of being caught and punished is what deters people, not the severity of the sanction. Let’s get it right and not just try to look tough for publicity’s sake.”

Damian Hopley, Chairman of the International Rugby Players’ Association (IRPA), www.irpa-rugby.com: “It’s intolerable that clean athletes can be fully compliant with a very invasive and burdensome system and still have their performances routinely questioned. The system just isn’t working. Even WADA has recognized there is a problem but the WADA working group on the ineffectiveness of testing, led by Dick Pound, will not report until May (well after the code revision process is completed) minimizing the value of any results. If we had a legitimate and equal athlete stakeholder voice within WADA we could make a difference. As it is now, Athlete Commissions are internal bodies of sport organizations and inherently conflicted. How can a true representative of athletes speak out against their own data protection rights? Incredible. It’s unethical, unfair and needs to change.”

Wil van Megen, World Football Players’ Union (FIFPro),www.fifpro.org: “The recent developments illustrate the dismantling of the current system. WADA and the other organizations involved in doping should have recognized in a much earlier stage that a system couldn’t work without the full consent and cooperation of the athletes involved. Proportionality is key and integrity must come from both sides”.

Paul Marsh, the Chairman of the Australian Athletes’ Alliance (AAA),www.athletesalliance.org.au, the peak body for Australia’s eight elite players’ associations representing 3,000 professional athletes: “It is clear that corruption and cheating does not begin with the athlete.  Mr. John Lawler, the CEO of ACC, was right to describe the athletes as being “exploited,” especially where the corrupting process has begun through organized crime.  Australia’s players’ associations have a strong track record in dealing with any threat to the integrity of sport and will not hesitate to build on this in a sensible and balanced way based on the principles of partnership, education, strong codes of conduct, complementary legislation and a deep commitment to protecting athletes whose careers and safety are placed at risk and into the hands of corrupting elements.”

Media Contact: Walter Palmer at walter.palmer@uniglobalunion.orgor +41 22 365 21 58 or mobile: +41 79 486 5731

Under the UNI Sport PRO umbrella, the following organizations have endorsed this statement: FIFPro (World Football Players’ Union,www.fifpro.org), IRPA (International Rugby Players’ Association,www.irpa-rugby.org), FICA (Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations, www.thefica.com), WAIPU (World Federation of Ice Hockey Players’ Unions, www.waipu.org ), EU Athletes (European Federation of Player Unions, www.euathletes.org ), NFLPA (National Football League Players Association, www.nflplayers.com ), AAA (Australian Athletes Alliance, www.athletesalliance.org.au  )