The World Anti-Doping Code is being revised – have your say

December 6, 2011

How does the World Anti-Doping Code (the Code) affect you? You may not even realize that it does, let alone how it does. In Canada, the Code is brought into force through the Canadian Anti Doping Program (CADP). If your sport organization has adopted the CADP into your rules, then you are operating under the Code.

And your world is about to change. The Code is under review and will be revised with the new Code being approved at the World Anti Doping Conference in South Africa in November 2013. A new CADP will follow and come into force sometime in 2014.

The review process means you will have an opportunity to participate in improving the Code and its application here in our country through the CADP. We will be undertaking an extensive set of consultations with the Canadian sport community over the coming months. But, to supplement that process, I thought it would be useful to “prime the pump” a little and engage in an informal consultation through this blog.

Let’s start with some high level questions. Do you think the Code is working to prevent and detect doping in sport? Do you think the Code strikes the right balance between its interest in protecting clean sport and its intrusiveness into the lives of athletes?

Digging a little deeper and looking at the Code content and in particular your experience with the CADP, is it working for you? If not, where is it in need of change? To stimulate your thinking, I’ll throw out a few suggestions for where discussion and debate might focus in the coming months. At this time, I’m not trying to be exhaustive in covering the areas that need to be addressed in any revisions to the Code, but merely provocative.

There are some obvious hot spots where we could start. The Prohibited List is always controversial. It is of course reviewed annually, but the criteria for whether or not a substance or method gets on the Prohibited List are established in the Code. Currently, for a substance or method to be put on the Prohibited List, it must meet at least two of the following criteria: it is performance enhancing, it is harmful to an athlete’s health, or it is contrary to the spirit of sport. This means a substance or method that is not performance enhancing could find its way onto the Prohibited List because it’s harmful to an athlete’s health and contrary to the spirit of sport. This begs the question, how can a substance or method that is not performance enhancing be doping?

Whereabouts and Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) requirements for registered testing pool athletes have generated significant reactions over the course of the past few years. The one hour window, 24/7/365, to track athlete whereabouts and the functionality of ADAMS (the IT management system to allow athletes to record whereabouts) has caused some friction in the system. Mutual recognition of TUEs, or lack of, is a recurring theme in athlete and athlete support personnel feedback. What is your experience with the athlete whereabouts requirements? Is it working for you? What about the TUE process? Is it clear, easy to navigate and does it provide the necessary protection of athlete medical information?

Anti-doping rule violations and their associated sanctions is another area of the Code that comes under fire from time to time. Most recently, the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s finding that the International Olympic Committee’s Rule 45 is unacceptable. It imposes an additional sanction on the athlete beyond what has been decided under the Code. This has implications right here in Canada as the Canadian Olympic Committee has a similar rule. But there are many other issues as well related to violations and sanctions that deserve careful consideration. From length of sanctions to when and where to apply “strict liability” and the elusive challenge of how to ensure sanctions are enforced, particularly as they apply to non-athletes; there are many issues to consider related to violations. Individual versus team sanctions is also a hotly debated issue under the current Code.

The whole results management process should be carefully examined. Reduced sanctions for providing substantial assistance, for example, has not been entirely successful as currently worded in the Code.

The hearing process and the individual’s right to a fair hearing also comes under review in this process. For example, should tribunals have the authority to subpoena witnesses? Is the intent and wording around the payment of legal fees clear and fair? How do we ensure impartial and competent arbitrators?

I have touched on but a few of the many issues that will come under scrutiny during the Code review process. Are any of the ones I’ve raised issues for you or your organization? Are there other issues related to the CADP that have caused you concern in the past? Have your say through this blog. Get your important issues onto the radar screen now so that we can ensure they receive careful consideration as we move through the consultation process in Canada. Look forward to hearing from you.