PtG Article 17.02.2018

Independent Testing Authority is ‘fixing failed system with broken’, say World Swimming Coaches

Independent Testing Authority’s independence is questioned by swimming coaches who call on aquatic sports to “not succumb to the massive pressure from the IOC” to join the ITA, calling it a ‘broken system’.

The International Association of Swimming Coaches (WSCA) calls on all aquatic sports to ‘unite and fight’ to ensure a clean sport. According to a statement sent out earlier this week, the way the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has handled the Russian doping case has demonstrated that they are “no longer interested in either Clean Sport or Fair Sport,” says the letter, signed by George Block, president of WSCA.

Unlike the IOC, the swimming coaches do not see the newly formed ‘Independent Testing Authority’ (ITA) as a solution to the problem. Due to the ITA’s composition, the new testing body is “neither independent, nor is it an authority”, the letter states and calls the ITA an “attempt to fix a failed system with a broken system”.

The letter urges coaches as well as athletes to call on their national federations and urge them to secure independence, by ‘not succumbing to massive IOC pressure’ to become a part of the ITA. Instead, the swimming coaches propose that FINA set up an integrity unit much like the Athletics Integrity Unit, set up in the wake of the scandal that hit the International Federation of Athletics Associations (IAAF). 

The swimming coaches are not the only ones expressing doubts about the independence of the ITA. In a comment on the recent appointment of WADA’s European Regional Office ‘s director Benjamin Cohen as ITA director general, Andy Brown from the Sports Integrity Initiative, points to the fact that all of the so far appointed members of the agency either have been or are currently affiliated with the established sports system in some way.

“The ITA Board Members have links across a variety of sporting organisations, all of which have an interest in commercially successful events. It could be argued that the ITA Board may have concerns about any doping announcement that could have a financial impact on such events,” Brown ends his comment.

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