When implemented properly, an independent anti-doping program protects the health, well-being, and rights of athletes, while preserving the integrity of sport.
Over time, global sport has evolved into a multibillion-dollar industry in which athletes and sport leaders serve as influential role models for people around the world. This influence means that protecting the values oan which sport is based is more important than ever. Doping is a key threat to the integrity of sport, making implementation of effective anti-doping programs on a global scale all the more critical.
Here are 3 key reasons why independence is a necessary component of an effective anti-doping program:
1. ELIMINATE INHERENT CONFLICTS OF INTEREST.
When a sport employs an independent anti-doping agency, it eliminates the inherent conflict of interest that exists when a governing body is tasked with both promoting and policing its own sport. An independent agency has the freedom to make impartial decisions to secure clean sport and protect the rights of clean athletes.
Recent history has shown that without an independent anti-doping program, it can be all too tempting for a sports organization to put financial considerations ahead of anti-doping priorities, a calculus which threatens both the integrity of the sport and the health of athletes. Even when well motivated, it can be difficult for a sports organization to demonstrate to its fans, its athletes, and to the media that its decisions are truly independent and not influenced by conflicting motives.
An example of conflicting motives are MICHAEL ROTICH, Kenya’s Team Manager of Track and Field, offered to provide advance warning of drugs tests to athletes in return for a £10,000 bribe during a Sunday Times undercover investigation. AND he was working for the Swedish anti-doping firm (Anyone who knows their name?) which has the contract for doping testing in Kenya. As I wrote then, it’s like hire a Lion to watch your Goats! How did he get that job, so he could warn athletes one day before testing??
We know from experience that when sports organizations is in partner with independent anti-doping organizations, it brings confidence to athletes that their rights are being protected, and that they can compete and win on a level playing field.
2. OFFER UNPARALLELED EXPERTISE.
Along with eliminating conflicts of interest, an independent anti-doping agency is distinctively positioned to serve as an authority in anti-doping, bringing trusted experience and expertise to testing, results management, adjudication, and athlete education programs. Operated by autonomous experts chosen for their anti-doping experience rather than marketing or sports background, an independent anti-doping agency has the unobstructed ability to implement best practices and deliver improved anti-doping operations.
Over the past 15 years, sport anti-doping programs have increased greatly in sophistication. The latest programs incorporate high levels of scientific and technical expertise, intelligence gathering, and the ability to successfully monitor and test athletes 24/7 around the world.
To be successful, current programs must successfully interface with governmental and non-governmental agencies around the globe. Information sharing and collaboration for the benefit of anti-doping is typically optimized when these entities are dealing with an independent anti-doping agency rather than a sports organization performing anti-doping functions.
3. INCREASSE TRANSPARENCY AND PUBLIC CONFIDENCE.
Numerous independent reviews of sport, including the Mitchell Report and the recent WADA Independent Commission reports, have made the important point that increasing transparency in anti-doping processes enhances accountability and trust. Additionally, transparency regarding testing results and sanctions is essential to increase athlete confidence in the anti-doping system and to deter doping.
Independent anti-doping agencies operating under the World Anti-Doping Code have, therefore, developed well processes that balance the due process rights of athletes with the undisputed importance of public disclosure of test results, case outcomes, and sanction decisions. Is Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (ADAK) such a independent anti-doping agency? Are the people in ADAK independent and trustable people? Because of the history of Athletics Kenya (AK) (requesting briebs from athletes), the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOCK), and the general accepting of paying briebes in The Kenyan community, particularly to public officials, it is legitimt to ask such questions about ADAK. ADAK has to have 100% trustable people as in other countries (except Russia).
Consequently, independent anti-doping agencies have developed the capacity to operate within the “relentless spotlight,” providing both the transparency and accountability to help sport live up to its true potential, while safeguarding confidential information until the time that disclosure is appropriate. For example, independence, transparency, and experience is valuable when dealing with a high profile investigation where there can be pressure to announce a result, but it is more important to defer announcement until the investigation is concluded.
Similarly, sports organizations are not best positioned to make credible anti-doping decisions when those decisions can impact schedules, sponsors, or competition outcomes. In these situations, anti-doping organizations are best positioned to make the right decision, at the right time, and most importantly, for the right reasons. Can the Goverment of Kenya confirm that ADAK is in this position?
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