GENEVA, SWITZERLAND, 12 FEBRUARY 2013 – 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.