Thu | Jul 2, 2020

Athletes make anti-doping push - JADCO backs call for greater athlete representation in drug-free efforts

Published:Tuesday | June 30, 2020 | 12:00 AMDaniel Wheeler - Gleaner Writer
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THE JAMAICA Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO) is currently examining ways to incorporate athletes in the process of creating and modifying anti-doping rules in a move that sports medicine specialist Dr Paul Wright believes is a progressive step in the fight for clean sports.

The development comes against the backdrop of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Athletes Anti-Doping Rights Act, a document, which was developed over a period of two years, by WADA’s Athlete Committee, in consultation with thousands of athletes and stakeholders from across the globe. The document goes into effect on January 1, 2021.
Chief among the outlined points listed within the act, is the athletes’ right to participate in governance and decision-making in anti-doping matters, as well as other rights, which the athletes believe anti-doping organisations should adopt for best practice.

The document reads: “Athletes should be consulted in the creation and modification of the anti-doping rules to which they must comply, and it is fair and right that athletes shall also have a voice and the right to participate in the governance of any anti-doping organisations that they are subject to.”

Wright supports the initiative, and pointed out that athletes have, in the past, been involved in improving anti-doping measures.

“What a lot of people don’t realise is that when WADA decided to keep samples for 10 years in order to test them with the use new methods of detection that were not available when the athlete took part, that part was pushed by athletes themselves, who wanted to be sure that those who cheated were eventually caught,” Wright noted. 

Wright believes that a suitable candidate would be a retired competitor, who knows the procedure of testing and competition and would be able to give insight from that perspective. 

“What I think the act is asking, is for athletes to recommend someone to the government structure, an athlete who has most likely retired and who has competed at the highest level to be a part of the governance structure so when decisions are made, one of the people making the decisions is somebody who has been throughout the process, understands the process and knows the ups and downs of being an elite athlete,” Wright said.  “Athletes know what is going on in the international circuit and to have their input in coming up with a governance structure is an excellent [idea].” 

IDEAL FORMAT

When contacted, JADCO chairman Alexander Williams, said that they are determining the best format in which they would be able to structure the athletes’ representational aspect with a couple of options being explored.

“What we are considering is, do we create an athletes’ committee that will inform the board or do we have an athlete sit on the board?” Williams reasoned. “We are currently seeing how best to incorporate what WADA intends with the inclusion of athletes’ rights.”

Other recommendations in the act speak to the right for athletes to have access to legal aid in anti-doping cases, equitable and fair testing programmes, medical treatment and protection of health rights, data protection, education, compensation as well as protection for whistle-blowers.