The IOC Athletes’ Commission met ahead of the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 to discuss the fight against doping, safeguarding athletes from harassment and abuse, and other important issues within the Olympic Movement 

On 4 February, the IOC Athletes’ Commission (AC) met in PyeongChang to discuss key issues affecting athletes within the Olympic Movement, ahead of a further meeting with the IOC Executive Board (EB).

At the centre of discussion was the fight against doping, particularly relating to the participation of the Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR) at PyeongChang 2018, and to decisions made on medal reallocation principles and ceremonies.

Athletes a central part of the anti-doping conversation
“Protecting clean athletes is the number one issue that our commission discusses on a daily basis – but it’s a tricky situation right now and we were obviously disappointed by the recent CAS decision to overturn the bans on the 28 Russian athletes,” said IOC AC chair Angela Ruggiero.

“But athletes are there every step of the way in terms of having a voice at the table – whether it’s on the IOC Executive Board, the WADA Athletes’ Commission or the WADA Foundation Board – and we’re continuing to ensure that the athletes’ voice is part of this conversation.”

As well as receiving an update from OAR Implementation Group (OARIG) member Danka Bartekova about the strict criteria that Russian athletes had to meet in order to compete in PyeongChang, IOC AC members discussed their own recommendations on the principles behind medal reallocation, and the make-up of the resulting ceremonies, which were approved by the IOC EB a day earlier.

Athletes will now be able to choose whether they receive their medal from their National Olympic Committee or International Federation; at IOC headquarters in Lausanne; at a subsequent edition of the Olympic Games, for example Tokyo 2020; or at the Youth Olympic Games, where athletes would be invited to be a role model for young athletes by discussing anti-doping in sport.

Supporting athletes who speak up
Those in attendance also addressed the recent USA Gymnastics scandal, which has given new visibility into abuse and harassment in sport. The IOC AC declared its full support to the athletes who came forward, and underlined the importance of safeguarding athletes during Games-time by providing a system through which athletes can report any instances of harassment and abuse.

“We want to applaud, support and say thank you to the athletes that spoke up,” said Ruggiero. “It took a tremendous amount of courage to come forward, but by doing that I think they’ve initiated a movement, and the impact will be more than what was in the court room – it will be very far-reaching, and across the entire Olympic Movement.”

Bringing the athletes’ voice to the IOC Executive Board
Among the other important issues that were addressed were gender equality, future recommendations concerning transgender athletes, and the increased Games-time support available to athletes through a number of activations in the PyeongChang Olympic Villages.

Led by Ruggiero, an update was then given to the IOC EB about preparations for the Games and the IOC AC Election; the implementation of the IOC AC Strategy, notably with the launch of Athlete365; and the ongoing development, through feedback given by the global athletes’ network, of the Athlete Charter of Rights and Responsibilities.

Following the conclusion of PyeongChang 2018, these issues will form key areas of focus for the new IOC AC chair Kirsty Coventry and vice-chair Danka Bartekova, who were appointed by the EB after a vote of confidence from all commission members.