Provision Of Information In Return For Reduced Sanctions Is Integral To Anti-Doping - Andy Parkinson, Chief Executive, UK Anti-Doping
In a guest blog for World Sports Law Report, Andy Parkinson, Chief Executive of UK Anti-Doping, considers key issues in anti-doping to be discussed at Tackling Doping in Sport 2011, Twickenham Stadium, 16 & 17 March.
We know dopers are becoming increasingly sophisticated and we are very conscious that anti-doping efforts must constantly evolve to become even less predictable and more advanced.
While the review of the World Anti-Doping Code does not formally start until early 2012, UK Anti-Doping is mindful of the impact this process will have on our work in the future. We approach this critical milestone with the desire to play an integral part. Consequently, we are already in discussions - domestically and internationally - about how we can take a leading role in this process and ensure that all that WADA has built over the past decade is developed rather than eroded, as some of the sporting movement would like.
At UK Anti-Doping we believe it is our responsibility to challenge the status quo and adopt a different approach to our programmes - whether it is through investment in our intelligence function, our desire to see athletes treated fairly even if they have committed a doping violation, or simply by stimulating discussions within the sporting movement. By doing things differently, we stand a better chance of instilling the values of clean sport at all levels, in the long term. I have said this many times, but the fight against doping in sport can only be effectively won with a united and global approach. We know we cannot operate alone as doping is a global issue and those involved in doping cross multiple borders. We must act accordingly.
Working in partnership with National Anti-Doping Organisations from across the world, law enforcement and governments, we have a chance of breaking down the traffic and supply chain from where athletes and their entourage source prohibited substances. With the 2012 Games in our sights, the focus will be on UK Anti-Doping to deliver in the short term, while Scotland will rightly expect us to deliver in 2014 for the Commonwealth Games. We are doing all we can to establish ways in which we can play our part in these significant events for the UK.
Anti-doping, or rather doping, has been prevalent in the news recently. Without commenting on the circumstances of the most recent case, that of Alberto Contador, it is evident from the numerous media articles that the perception of a conflict of interest is as damaging as a real conflict of interest.
When we established UK Anti-Doping in 2009, the primary reason was to eliminate any conflict of interest that sports have in managing anti-doping cases related to their own athletes. I am sure that the Spanish Cycling Federation will consider the evidence in front of them with genuine impartiality, but it is hard to ignore the difficult position they find themselves in when managing a case of one of the nations’ most high profile athletes. Cases like this just go to strengthen the view of UK Anti-Doping and many other nations in seeking complete independence from sport in the determination of whether an athlete has doped or not.
At the Tackling Doping in Sport Conference on 16 and 17 March, it is inevitable that the subject of how we penalise those that attempt to enhance their performance will be discussed. An accidental rule violation is clearly not the same as someone deliberately seeking to enhance their performance. However, we need be able to stem doping from the source by breaking down supply chains and it is vital we share information with partner organisations and seek to gather intelligence from those with firsthand knowledge. One way to achieve this is by offering those that have been caught an opportunity to reduce their sanction by providing ‘substantial assistance’. This is sometimes viewed as controversial but without it, where else is their incentive to cooperate?
The question for us all over the next couple of years is, how do we find the balance between the enduring interests of sport against the rights of the individual? There is no scope to compromise on those testing positive, but neither must we restrict ourselves to judging our success on the number of tests we conduct - this is a poor and unsophisticated way of measuring how we are performing and beware those sporting organisations that justify their programmes by numbers.
Every athlete has the right to compete on a level playing field and every sports fan deserves to know that their hero is 100% clean- that is why we are here and this is what we are committed to delivering.
Andy Parkinson, Chief Executive, UK Anti-Doping will be speaking at Tackling Doping in Sport 2011, a two-day conference at Twickenham on 16 and 17 March. Tackling Doping in Sport is a World Sports Law Report event in association with UK Anti-Doping and Squire Sanders Hammonds.