Key topics discussed by Athlete Representatives

On 6 June 2019, the IOC Athletes’ Commission led the discussions as the Global Network of Athlete Representatives came together to discuss a number of key topics and new developments, as well as the latest from April’s hugely successful International Athletes’ Forum in Lausanne.

Danka Bartekova, vice-chair of the IOC Athletes’ Commission, steered an informative and active call of around 100 representatives from across the international sports world. Following the International Athletes’ Forum in April, it was decided to extend the invite to all NOC and IF Athletes’ Commissions and all participants of the Forum.

Reflecting on the discussion, Bartekova said: “We recognise how vital it is that the ever-expanding Global Network of Athlete Representatives can be a part of crucial conversations with the IOC Athletes’ Commission that help to shape the future of sport and support the Olympic Movement.

“The Forum provided the perfect opportunity to welcome an increasing number of participants to join our quarterly call – and we are delighted that this number is on the rise.”

IOC Sports Director Kit McConnell and Gunter Younger, Director of Intelligence and Investigations for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), also joined the call to provide the athlete representatives with key updates and the chance to ask questions on the important topics of AIBA and RUSADA.

The highlights of the call were as follows:

Management of data and samples retrieved from the former Moscow Laboratory

In January, a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) expert team successfully retrieved the data from the Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) and the underlying analytical data generated by the former Moscow Laboratory in Russia. The data are crucial to build strong cases against cheats and exonerate other athletes suspected of having participated in widespread doping on the basis of WADA-commissioned investigations led by IOC Member Richard W. Pound and Professor Richard H. McLaren. Since the retrieval, WADA Intelligence and Investigations has been working to authenticate and verify the 24 terabytes of data with information that they had previously obtained via a whistleblower.

This process is being led by WADA’s Director of Intelligence and Investigations, Gunter Younger, who joined the call.  Gunter Younger confirmed that a very high percentage of the data were authentic and therefore sufficient to start extracting evidence to start prosecuting cases. He emphasised that the analysis of more than 24 million documents is quite complex; that it takes significant time; and that, the Intelligence and Investigations Department will investigate every case that is considered suspicious.

In April, another WADA team successfully retrieved 2,262 samples from the Moscow laboratory, which had been split into A and B samples and contained within 4,524 collection bottles. The samples were removed from Moscow and are in a WADA-accredited laboratory outside of Russia.

WADA will now provide the involved International Federations (IFs) with individual packages of evidence collected; and, the IFs will decide how to proceed. If and when IFs decide not to bring a case forward, WADA may decide to bring the case forward itself to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

It is estimated that, by the end of 2019, all priority cases will have been investigated and handed over to results management when experts will assess whether or not the evidence is strong enough to proceed.

AIBA update

Due to ongoing issues regarding AIBA, specifically in the areas of finance, governance, ethics and refereeing and judging, the IOC Executive Board decided in November 2018 to put in place an official enquiry, carried out by an Inquiry Committee composed of three IOC Members: Nenad Lalovic (Chair, IOC Executive Board Member), Richard Carrion and Emma Terho (athlete representative ).

Kit McConnell and Emma Terho provided the latest on the current situation and the organisation of the boxing tournament at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

The aforementioned Inquiry Committee worked for six months and made the following recommendations to the IOC EB who met on 22 May. The full report is available for reading here.

Firstly, the IOC EB has recommended that the boxing tournament keep its place on the Tokyo 2020 programme, with the focus being on the protection of the athletes and the sport. Secondly, it has recommended that the recognition of AIBA be suspended and a taskforce be put in place to deliver the qualification events and the tournament, led by Mr Morinari Watanabe, IOC Member and President of the Gymnastic Federation (FIG).

Both recommendations will have to be approved by the IOC Session that will meet in Lausanne from 24 to 26 June 2019. The qualification system will then be defined immediately after.

Transgender guidelines

IOC Head of Public Affairs Katia Mascagni also delivered an update on the complex topic of transgender guidelines.

Currently, the IOC is working with a group of experts – which comprises scientists, doctors, legal experts, human rights experts, athletes, and representatives of IFs – on the creation of guidelines to help IFs shape sport-specific policies and regulations in relation to fairness, safety, inclusivity, and non-discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sex characteristics.

Given the complexity of the issue, consultations have been expanded beyond the medical community and will continue over the coming months. As such, no timeline regarding the release of the guidelines has yet been defined and will be determined by dialogue with the concerned stakeholders.

The objective is firmly fixed on a global approach for hyperandrogenism and transgender athletes. Ultimately, the aim is to develop better practices to ensure all athletes can engage in fair competition, without suffering discrimination on their gender identity and/or sex characteristics, among other characteristics.

The International Athletes’ Forum in Lausanne

Danka Bartekova concluded the discussions by underlining the success of the ninth International Athletes’ Forum, held from 13 to 15 April 2019 in Lausanne, where over 350 athlete representatives from all stakeholders and across the Olympic Movement were invited to follow up on the important work of the Continental Athletes’ Forums.

It was the first time that the IOC Athletes’ Commission was able to extend its invitation to representatives from all 206 NOC Athletes’ Commissions.

The Slovakian, who won a bronze medal in shooting at London 2012, finalised the call by reiterating the strong recommendations that were a key outcome of the three-day discussion:

  1. To strengthen athletes’ representation
  2. To strengthen the Solidarity funding model
  3. To strengthen direct financial support for NOC Athletes’ Commissions (up to USD 10 million per Olympiad)
  4. To strengthen the support for career transition
  5. To strengthen the protection of clean athletes and the fight against doping
  6. To focus on athletes’ mental health
  7. Support for the Athletes’ Declaration
  8. To invite athletes to be ambassadors for the Olympic Movement
  9. To foster engagement and communication among the Athletes’ Commissions’ network

The work done at the forum does not stop there, the IOC AC have already started work on the

implementation of these recommendations ….

  • The outcomes of the forum were presented at Sport Accord in May to all Olympic and non-Olympic IFs
  • The implementation plan is being put in place and is already underway such as the discussions with regards to financial support for athlete support programmes and implementation of the Athletes’ Declaration.
  • A report will be delivered by Kirsty Coventry on behalf of the IOC AC at the IOC Executive Board and the IOC Session later this month and recommendations will be submitted to the IOC Executive Board for approval.
  • The work with ASOIF for clarification of athlete support with IOC payments to IFs has already started.
  • The Business Accelerator online course has been launched and the first stage (online stage) will run through the end of June, the second stage (in person workshop for selected 100 athletes) will be done in August and September and the third stage (individual mentorship for the final 10) will be done from September. Athletes that would be interested in taking part are encouraged to sign up on athlete365 and start the online course.
  • The Athlete365 Network app was also launched at the form as a place where the athlete representative community can continue the conversations. The IOC AC have created this app so that Athletes’ Commissions can create their own groups and communicate to each other and connect with other ACs to share information.

Further details on these recommendations, which will be submitted to the IOC EB, can be found here.