PtG Article 30.10.2017

A swipe at WADA? Olympic Summit calls for election of all athlete commissions

Athlete commissions must be elected in order to respect principles of democratic legitimacy and diversity, conclude stakeholders at an Olympic Summit meeting.

Olympic Summit urges all sports organisations to elect athlete commissions in order to “respect the principles of democratic legitimacy, universality and diversity,” reports Inside the Games.

The appeal was made on Sunday following a meeting between a number of Olympic stakeholders including International Olympic Committee (IOC) President, Thomas Bach, and representatives of the IOC Athletes’ Commission.

According to a communique published by the IOC afterwards, those who attended the meeting agreed that the organising of athletes’ representative elections should be guided by democratic principles of universality and legitimacy.

“The Olympic Summit discussed the issue of athlete representation within the Olympic Movement. The Summit agreed that any athlete representation should respect the principles of democratic legitimacy, universality and diversity. The Summit encourages all IFs and NOCs which are not yet doing so to organise athletes' representative elections in the appropriate manner and guided by these principles,” reads the communique.

“The Summit noted the democratic and representative nature of the IOC's Athletes' Commission, with representatives elected at the Olympic Games by the Olympic athletes and with representation on the IOC Executive Board,” the communique adds.

A ‘lash-out’ against WADA

The call for representative election for athletes’ commissions may, however, be interpreted as an implicit criticism of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), whose Athlete Committee is still appointed rather than elected, writes Inside the Games.

The apparent criticism follows tensions between the IOC Athlete Committee and WADA’s Athlete Committee over sanctions against Russia.

Earlier this year, Chair and vice-chair, Angela Ruggiero and Tony Estanguet, denounced WADA Athlete Commission chair, Beckie Scott’s call for stronger punishments against Russian athletes, following allegations made in the 2016 McLaren report.

Scott, who is also a former member of the IOC Athletes’ Commission, asked for more severe punishments such as a suspension from the Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang in 2018.

Last month, Ruggiero and Estanguet responded to Scott’s call for stronger punishments against Russia by issuing a statement in which they claimed it was inappropriate to recommend further sanctions until the two ongoing IOC-commissioned investigations into the alleged Russian wrongdoings are published in December.