Connect with Us:  

British OC Head Calls For Big WADA Review

Nov 15, 2011  - Craig Lord

Colin Moynihan, British Olympic Association Chairman, today called for stronger global anti-doping policies and practices, and a fundamental review of the progress of the World Anti-Doping Association, in order to make greater progress in the fight against doping in sport.

Lord Moynihan was speaking at the fifth IF Forum in Lausanne, an annual event held for the International Federations belonging to SportAccord, the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF) and the Association of International Olympic Winter Federations (AIOWF). The forum brings together about 250 delegates in a collegial environment to share ideas and solutions on issues faced by the federations.

This is what has sparked the latest call for a tougher stance to be taken at WADA, whose Code in some ways actually weakened the ability of FINA to act against cheats and prevented swimming from imposing the tough penalties that had been agreed in the sport on the eve of WADA's birth.

In his speech, Lord Moynihan reaffirmed the BOA’s strong defence of its Eligibility Byelaw in the wake of a CAS ruling that the IOC could not block doping cheats from the Games under the WADA Code and current arrangements and agreements with WADA. The British peer said: "The Byelaw is concerned with the eligibility of athletes to compete. It is not a sanction. It is above all a Selection Rule, governing whom the BOA is and is not prepared to select to represent the United Kingdom at the Olympic Games and its aim is to enshrine the right of the National Olympic Committee to select the National Olympic Team.  

"Within this context, it imposes a lifetime ban on eligibility for British athletes guilty of a serious doping offence.  It is distinct in purpose and effect from the IOC’s Rule 45 and does not similarly constitute an additional sanction in contravention of the WADA Code. 

On the 11th October this year the President of the IOC, Jacques Rogge wrote to me stating:

‘The IOC fully endorses, and appreciates the BOA’s position in the fight against doping.  More specifically, the IOC fully and unequivocally supports the autonomy of the BOA in this matter and the BOA continued application of the BOA Byelaw.’

In the two decades since the BOA Selection Policy was introduced in 1992, the Selection Rule has retained overall support from over 90 percent of successive generations of British Olympic athletes, summer and winter.”

Lord Moynihan continued: "In recent days, much has been made of the fact that there is no room for redemption in the BOA’s lifetime ban. It is argued that Olympic values should include the indulgence of human frailty, forgiveness and redemption and that the mark of a true justice system is the prospect of reform and redemption that it offers. These are important values and society as a whole is defined and enhanced by our recognition and adoption of them.  To err, after all, is human.

"However, I believe we need to ask where in this case is the redemption for the clean athlete denied selection by a competitor who has knowingly cheated, taking the whole “enchilada” of drugs?  There is no national team kit for that clean athlete.  No redemption for him.  And what is worse the cheat, possibly with a lifelong benefit of a course of growth hormones and other drugs, is back again.  Under the current WADA Code, if he times his two year ban correctly he is ready to deny another clean athlete selection for the following Olympic Games.  Both those clean athletes who with their coaches have given their lives to compete fairly face the prospect of never being selected in their lifetime.  There is no redemption for them. 

"It is the BOA’s belief, shared by the overwhelming majority of athletes, and now by the IOC Athletes’ Commission that the wilful, consistent, and illicit use of banned performance-enhancing drugs use is the most heinous and reprehensible form of cheating in sport and so in this specific case the toughest sanctions should apply.”

Lord Moynihan concluded: "We now have a situation where drugs cheats will be able to compete in London 2012 and we have to decide if this is the outcome we want: a watered-down and increasingly toothless gesture towards zero tolerance or whether the driving rationale behind the IOC’s former Rule 45 and the BOA Byelaw should be incorporated into a global anti-doping policy so that doping punishments encompass not only sanctions but the wholly separate questions of eligibility for competition too.

"Regrettably, despite spending hundreds of millions of dollars in the ten years since its creation, WADA has been unable to achieve its own, well intentioned, objectives.

"The inflexible penalty system and a failure to recognise a clear distinction between cheating, and clerical errors or mistakes has alienated many athletes who feel they have been stigmatised by the system as ‘guilty before proven innocent’.

"Whilst reviewing this fundamental issue, I would also urge WADA to reduce the cost of testing.  I hope it will turn to intelligence testing. It must speed up its processes.  It must go after the doctors, the coaches, and the entourage who aid and abet the cheats.  

"The reliance on the formulation of a list which appears to be less than adequately based on science or logic has dented its reputation and most telling of all, with only fifty nine of 204 Olympic Nations ‘programme compliant’ with the Code, it is understandable that many in sport have concluded that it has underachieved in the ten years it has been operational. Not least because, and the point is worth re-emphasising, the system put in place by WADA has failed to catch the major drug cheats of our time. 

"The likes of Marion Jones, many cyclists and the Balco Operation are only a few of those who have been tracked down and prosecuted not by WADA but by the law enforcement officers.

"So now is a time for change, now is a time for informed review, and now is a time to refocus on our drive to identify those who knowingly cheat their fellow competitors.”

Many around the world of sport will shout a loud 'bravo' as they read the words of Lord Moynihan today.

You can read his speech in full here.