Finding Solutions out of Scandal

Tomorrow morning, Canadian law professor, Richard McLaren, is set to release a second, in-depth report into Russia’s state-sponsored doping regime.

In July, his first report sent shock waves through the international sport community. He presented compelling evidence that implicated the highest levels of government, the secret Russian police, and virtually every sport on the Olympic roster.

Professor McLaren found, beyond any reasonable doubt, a sport system corrupted from top to bottom. The distorted design behind it all, he concluded, was to ensure that Russia’s medal count on home soil in 2014 would far surpass what government officials saw as a dismal showing at the Vancouver Games four years earlier.

Professor McLaren’s investigation has not only uncovered evidence of state-sponsored doping, it has also exposed some critical weaknesses in the global anti-doping system.

His work sets the stage for the international sport community to move forward with important reforms designed to address these weaknesses.

While the International Olympic Committee and World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) have been exploring possible changes to the global anti-doping system, leaders from many national anti-doping organizations (NADOs), including the CCES, recently gathered in Copenhagen and developed a specific proposal for needed reforms. 

Implementing the Copenhagen Reforms would strengthen WADA’s ability to do its work, detect problems much sooner and greatly reduce the chances of another doping scandal on this scale.

Among the recommendations is standardized, independent testing for international sport federations with regulatory oversight from WADA to ensure consistency and proper rigour from sport to sport. Pursuing improved governance practices in anti-doping organizations, including WADA, would mean greater independence and transparency.

We also need to take specific steps to ensure current and future protection for whistleblowers like Yuliya and Vitaly Stepanov, who first exposed widespread doping practices in Russia. On this front, WADA has developed and approved a model policy – that policy now needs to be vigorously promoted and scrupulously implemented.

To be truly effective, WADA must have the authority to enforce sanctions against countries, sport organizations or NADOs that defy the World Anti-Doping Code.

For the second time in five months, the eyes of the international sport community will be fixed on a media conference led by Richard McLaren. Again, we anticipate his findings will be deeply disturbing.

His ground-breaking work will likely confirm – yet again – that the international sport community must get its collective act together and take decisive action to create that elusive “level playing field” for all athletes, in all sports and in all countries.

Implementing the Copenhagen Reforms would go a long way to restoring the integrity of international sport and rebuilding trust in the eyes of clean athletes around the world.