New doping convention to be in force by Winter Games

24.10.2005

By Play the Game
The Olympic Winter Games in Italy has become a focal point for appropriate means to fight doping in sport.

A number of governments are pushing for ratification of the newly adopted International Convention Against Doping in Sport so it can be in force by the time of the Games. Meanwhile the IOC is working hard to get the Italian government to suspend the law making doping a criminal offense for the duration of the Games.

The IOC is worried that Italian police might conduct raids in the Olympic village and that athletes testing positive for drugs could end up going to jail.

Debate about new convention

Play the Game 2005 explores laws, conventions and the ethics of the fight against doping in sport in a number of special sessions.

 

Amongst the speakers are Paul Marriott-Lloyd, programme specialist from UNESCO, who will introduce the newly adopted International Convention Against Doping in Sport and outline its potential.

 

Other prominent speakers addressing the conference on the topic of doping control are David Howman, Director General in WADA, Travis Tygart of the US Anti-Doping Agency, and Richard H. McLaren, arbitrator in CAS.

 

The IOC argues that Olympic regulations should take preference in the city where the Games are being held – an argument backed by Dick Pound, president of WADA and a member of IOC. He says that the Olympic rules and the WADA code never contemplated having doped athletes locked up but just want them out of sport.

But Italian legislators are reluctant to make any change. Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini has told Associated Press that he is against suspending the law.

 "I believe that one of the principles of sports is fairness. An athlete who uses banned substances comes under this principle, and therefore I would not support measures to render our legislation — which is one of the most just and severe in the world — weaker for people who use banned substances."

The International Convention Against Doping in Sport
Meanwhile in Paris, the UNESCO General Conference has unanimously adopted the International Convention Against Doping in Sport, and governments are encouraged to ratify it so it can be in force by the time of the Winter Games.

Why? Because some governments – such as the Danish government – believe that it is important to keep up the pressure and show the sports movement that governments mean business when they say they want to eradicate doping in sport.

The new convention is a direct outcome of the World Conference on Doping in Sport which took place in Copenhagen in March 2003. 181 governments have later signed the so-called Copenhagen Declaration from that conference and thereby signalled their intention to formally recognise the World Anti-Doping Code.

However, many governments can not be legally bound by a non-governmental document such as the WADA Code and therefore it was necessary to draw up the International Convention Against Doping in Sport under the auspices of UNESCO.

The new convention provides a legal framework within which all governments can take action to remove doping from sport. Under the Convention governments will have a legal commitment to implement the World Anti-Doping Code and take specific action to:

  • Restrict the availability of prohibited substances or methods to athletes (except for legitimate medical purposes) including measures against trafficking

  • Facilitate doping controls and support national testing programmes

  • Withhold financial support from athletes and athlete support personnel who commit an anti-doping rule violation, or sporting organisations that are not in compliance with the Code

  • Encourage producers and distributors of nutritional supplements to establish ‘best practice’ in the labelling, marketing and distribution of products which might contain prohibited substances

  • Support the provision of anti-doping education to athletes and the wider sporting community.

30 governments must ratify the convention by the end of December 2005 in order to have the Convention in force by the time of the Winter Games in Torino in February 2006.

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