The IOC Session today received updates on the anti-doping front from both the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the International Testing Agency (ITA), including the necessary adaptations that have been taken due to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the postponement of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
Health and safety of all involved parties a priority
The far-reaching effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the sporting world included significant impacts on the global anti-doping system. In early March, as the virus was spreading across the world, WADA called on Anti-Doping Organisations (ADOs) worldwide to prioritise health and safety, while also delivering comprehensive guidelines in order to protect the integrity of doping control programmes. These guidelines, developed in consultation with stakeholders including the (ITA and National Anti-Doping Organisations (NADOs), were updated as the situation evolved, with a focus on how to best operate testing programmes while protecting the health and safety of all involved. In parallel to this, WADA kept athletes updated with the latest information by publishing regular Q&A documents.
US Congress and the Rodchenkov Act
Following the report in June by the United States Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to the US Congress calling on WADA’s funding to be cut if the US did not receive more representation within the governance of the agency, WADA sent a detailed rebuttal to the Congress. A follow-up meeting was held with the US Senate Committee on Appropriations and follow-up documents were sent. WADA reiterated its willingness to help the US in its fight against doping.
While WADA strongly supports governments using their legislative powers to protect clean athletes in the fight against doping, it called on the US Senate to consider widely held concerns about the Rodchenkov Act. While several aspects of the Act would facilitate the fight against doping, WADA has several reservations with respect to the Act as it is written, especially regarding the issue of extra territorial jurisdiction, as also mentioned in this IOC statement of March 2020.
Preparing for the 2021 World Anti-Doping Code and Standards
Planned for mid-March, WADA’s annual symposium, the aim of which was to prepare for the implementation of the 2021 World Anti-Doping Code, was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In order to help Code Signatories prepare for implementation of the 2021 Code and Standards taking effect on 1 January 2021, a new programme, entitled “WADA’s Code Implementation Support Programme”, has gone live. Available via an e-learning platform, resources include factsheets, video tutorials, checklists, presentations and pre-recorded webinars. Final versions of the 2021 World Anti-Doping Code and International Standards were published on 16 June.
International Weightlifting Federation update
Following information and evidence received by WADA from the team that conducted the McLaren Independent Weightlifting Investigation on the activities of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF), WADA asked for immediate action from the IWF on all pending doping cases, with priority given to those close to the statute of limitations. WADA will monitor this process closely, while also continuing its own ongoing investigation in order to determine if further action is necessary in terms of compliance of the IWF.
The IOC Session was also given an update by WADA on RUSADA compliance and Operation LIMS. WADA’s full report can be found here.
Vast testing programme ready for Tokyo 2020
As a result of the postponement of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, the ITA has been adapting its anti-doping programmes for delivery in 2021. Most specifically, pre-Games testing activities will be updated in order to fit the new timeframe. The ITA confirmed that its Tokyo 2020 Pre-Games Expert Group will resume its work at the end of the summer with the aim of starting to issue targeted recommendations in autumn.
The ITA reported that out of-competition sample collection and in-competition tests significantly dropped during the pandemic, while doping controls were carried out whenever and wherever possible, prioritising the health of athletes and the anti-doping workforce. Despite the difficult circumstances, the ITA maintained all its other anti-doping activities and services for its partners throughout lockdown. The Agency issued specific guidelines on increased sanitary precautions and also made the necessary arrangements to be ready to carry out planned and rescheduled tests.
Lausanne 2020 focused on education
The ITA also shared its final report of its Anti-Doping Programme for the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) Lausanne 2020. Both in- and out-of-competition tests were performed during the YOG, and no Adverse Analytical Findings were reported. New paperless solutions were implemented for the first time, showing potential to be further used for Tokyo 2020. The ITA placed strong emphasis on education during the YOG, and delivered an interactive learning workshop on the doping control process that proved to be very popular among the young athletes.
New partnerships strengthen the fight against doping
A new partnership between the ITA and the International Cycling Union (UCI) was announced earlier this year. As of January 2021, the ITA will be responsible for managing the UCI’s anti-doping programme and a dedicated ITA Cycling Unit will be created.
The ITA has developed the International Doping Control Officer (IDCO) Training & Certification Programme, which it launched in July. The ITA IDCO Training Programme aims to offer athletes of the world the guarantee that wherever they are tested and whatever sport they compete in, the doping controls they are subject to are conducted safely, respectfully and with trained professionals. ITA Certified IDCOs will be trusted experts in the professional, operational and World Anti-Doping Code compliance aspects required to deliver out-of-competition and in-competition testing programmes at international sporting events. In the future, it is the ITA’s vision that only ITA-Certified IDCOs will collect samples at the Olympic Games and International Federations’ events.
Permanent CAS Anti-doping Division up-and-running
In its report to the Session, the International Council of Arbitration for Sport (ICAS) pointed out that the permanent CAS Anti-doping Division started (ADD) its activities on 1 January 2019, under the presidency of former Swiss federal judge Ivo Eusebio. 54 arbitrators experienced in anti-doping regulations have been appointed and 14 IFs have fully delegated their adjudication of violations and sanctions to the CAS ADD.