On 14 and 15 January, as part of the IOC’s Commissions Week, the IOC Athletes’ Commission met in Lausanne to discuss key topics and underline the year’s priorities. Emphasising the importance of the global network of Athletes’ Commissions, the IOC AC invited the representatives of the five Continental Associations to the meeting for the second year in a row.  

Hot topics on the IOC Athletes’ Commission agenda were anti-doping, mental health, communication with athletes and increasing support to athletes.

Updates were provided on number of projects, including the Athletes’ Rights and Responsibilities Declaration, which has received an overwhelmingly positive reaction, illustrated by the high levels of adoption across the Olympic Movement since being adopted at the IOC Session last October.  

The IOC Athletes’ Commission stand together with President, Thomas Bach.

The IOC AC also received a progress report on the Athlete365 Business Accelerator – the new social entrepreneur programme that will be delivered with the support of Olympic Solidarity and in partnership with the Yunus Centre.

The Commission then reviewed the success of the Athlete365 Space at the Olympic Village during the Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang and Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires. As part of the Athlete Engagement Strategy, the activations at both Games were highly appreciated by the participating athletes, with record-breaking statistics in terms of participation in different activities in the Olympic Village.

The IOC President also attended part of the meeting, where he exchanged ideas with Commission members on different topics and expressed his ongoing support for strengthening the voice of athletes.

Prioritising key athlete issues

At the top of the agenda of the AC meeting on 14 January was the protection of clean athletes, with an overview on the current position in the RUSADA case and the next steps outlined.

The Commission expressed its frustration with the current situation and the missed deadline for handing over the LIMS data. The Commission took note of the following facts:

  • Two expert missions from WADA have been to Russia in an attempt to collect the LIMS data. The first mission before the 31 December 2018 deadline failed due to the presence of uncertified equipment of the expert group under Russian law. The second mission to extract the LIMS data started last week.
  • The Compliance Review Committee (CRC) met on 14 and 15 of January to analyse all reports from the two expert missions and RUSADA.
  • The WADA Executive Committee (ExCo) will meet on 22 January to make a decision on this issue based on the CRC’s recommendations.

The Commission reiterated its position that these recommendations and the subsequent decision of the WADA ExCo should lead to immediate and appropriate measures.

Following the WADA ExCo meeting, the IOC AC will hold a conference call with the global network of Athletes’ Commissions to discuss the decision by WADA with athlete representatives.

Increasing engagement

Speaking after the meeting, IOC AC Chair Kirsty Coventry said: “Starting the New Year, it is great to see everyone with so much enthusiasm and ready to have a fresh start with our work for the benefit of athletes globally. It has been an incredibly busy period for us, and this meeting provided an opportunity to dive deeper into the core topics and ensure we continue to push forward and prioritise our work according to what is important to athletes from across the movement.”

Highlighting the importance of in-person meetings, she added: “Technology is great, and we are continually improving our engagement with athletes and our global network of athlete representatives via email and teleconferencing. As we are continuing to enhance our engagement, we will put additional emphasis in 2019 on more in-person meetings with our peers and various Athletes’ Commissions.”

Integrity and finance

In addition, the IOC AC members received presentations on the IOC’s revenue distribution model and anti-corruption measures from the IOC’s Chief Financial Officer, Lana Haddad, and IOC Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer Pâquerette Girard Zappelli respectively.  

During the discussion with Lana Haddad, the Commission addressed the importance of increasing support to athletes and also having effective communication to them in this area. The Commission emphasised that it is crucial that athletes are aware what resources are available to them and how they can access these.  

Physical and mental health

Speaking about the importance of mental health as well as the prevention of harassment and abuse in sport, the Commission received comprehensive updates on the work that the IOC is doing in these areas to support and protect athletes.

On the issue of mental health, recognising the significance of this topic for athletes, the Commission discussed how it can support athletes moving forward in raising awareness about the topic and helping to remove the stigma around the issue. The physical and mental health of athletes will be an important topic at the 9th International Athletes’ Forum, which is set to be the biggest athlete representative gathering ever across the Olympic Movement.

From 13 to 15 April, the IOC AC will host the 9th International Athletes’ Forum, bringing together nearly 350 athlete representatives from across the whole Olympic Movement to discuss the most important topics facing athletes.

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