Athlete representatives discuss key topics

IOC Athletes’ Commission Chair Kirsty Coventry provides an update on several key topics following a call with the global network of athlete representatives.

Dear Athletes,

On 30 September, we had a conference call with the Global Network of Athletes’ Commissions, in which over 60 athlete representatives of Olympic Movement stakeholders (including International Federations, National Olympic Committees, Continental Associations, WADA and the International Paralympic Committee) to discuss several important topics for our community. It is vital that we continue to have these conversations through which we can keep everyone up to date on key discussions and obtain feedback on the various points.

On this occasion, Olivier Niggli, WADA Director General, and Jonathan Taylor, Chair of the Compliance Review Committee (CRC), also joined the call, as did Kit McConnell, IOC Sports Director, as we discussed issues ranging from anti-doping and athlete demonstrations to the newly created Olympic Boxing Task Force and the upcoming IF Forum 2019.

The fight against doping

As you will likely have read, WADA gained access to the Moscow laboratory in January 2019 and extracted the analytical data contained there on athletes. WADA have been working since then to authenticate the data and to verify it with information previously obtained.  

Two processes are currently in place: the first one is aimed at packaging the data, comparing various sources and pass them on to the IFs so that they can deal with the cases (evidentiary packages for 47 cases have been sent by WADA to IFs so far). The second process is about the authentication of the data: it is a complex work started in January 2019 and involves digital forensic specialists from the University of Lausanne.  

Meanwhile, a comparison between the 2019 LIMS (Laboratory Information Management System) database and a copy provided by an informant back in 2015 has shown a number of unexplained inconsistencies. WADA has opened a compliance procedure against the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) on 17 September and has given three weeks to RUSADA and the Russian Ministry of Sport to explain these inconsistencies and answer a number of technical questions.

Once an answer is received from the Russian authorities, WADA’s experts will reconvene and clarify the full picture or will ask for more time for supplementary investigations. They will subsequently report back to the independent Compliance Review Committee, which will in turn review the matter and decide whether or not to bring a formal recommendation of non-compliance of RUSADA to WADA’s Executive Committee. The 47 cases mentioned above are not affected by data inconsistencies and can go forward. The topic could be discussed during the WADA Executive Committee Meeting (4 November) if the situation is clarified by then. 

During the call, an update was given on the WADA World Conference in Katowice, Poland, to be held from 5 to 7 November 2019. The Conference will be mainly dedicated to the adoption of the revised World Anti-Doping Code and International Standards, and athlete representatives are invited to sign up. 

Athlete demonstrations

As you will have seen, there have been a number of athlete demonstrations recently. The IOC Athletes’ Commission (AC) is fully supportive of freedom of speech, highlighted in the Athletes’ Rights and Responsibilities Declaration. At the same time, our Commission supports the Olympic Charter, which states that “No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.” It is a fundamental principle that sport is neutral and must be separate from political, religious or any other type of interference.

We believe the focus of the Olympic Games must remain on respecting your fellow athletes, sport and the unity and harmony which are inherent to the Olympic Games, otherwise the dignity of the competition or the ceremony is destroyed and attention for your sporting achievements is drawn away. 

The IOC AC is drafting guidelines for athletes competing at the Olympic Games with regard to where athletes have an opportunity to share their views and where is not appropriate. We would love to hear the Global Athlete Community opinion on this topic, please get in touch (athlete365@olympic.org).

Olympic boxing progress

Since its creation on 26 June, the Olympic Boxing Task Force has been working hard to communicate with all boxers about the upcoming Tokyo 2020 qualification events, and has been engaging with the boxing community on three levels:

  • Our dedicated website on Athlete365 that will run in five languages and be the hub for all information for the boxers and their entourage;
  • Workshops organised at the PanAm Games and the All African Games to collect feedback;
  • An Ambassador Programme featuring a group of 10 boxers composed of 1 male and 1 female athlete from each continent, who will relay the messages to the boxing communities and give their feedback to the IOC. The composition will be announced on 30 October.

Share your voice at the IF Forum 2019

During the call, I also provided an update on a number of the recommendations from the 2019 International Athletes’ Forum. Building on the success of that event, “Athlete-Centred Sport” has been unveiled as the theme of the upcoming IF Forum 2019, which will take place in Lausanne from 28 to 30 October. The objectives of the IF Forum are:

  1. Understanding the role of IFs in supporting athletes 
  2. Exploring how IFs can benefit from Athlete-Centred Sport 

The IOC AC will be represented at the Forum by Vice-Chair Danka Bartekova, one of the key speakers, and there are also attendee places for IF athlete representatives. If you’re interested in participating, then please get in contact with your IF. They can register one athlete, and the registration cost for the first 30 athletes is covered by the IOC.

Should you have any further questions on these or other topics please do not hesitate to contact us as athlete365@olympic.org – or download our new Athlete365 Network App and set up your AC group to chat and collaborate.

In the Olympic spirit, 

Kristy Coventry Signature

Kirsty Coventry