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Anti-doping agencies ask for improved whistleblower protection

A group of national anti-doping agencies including those from the United States, Britain, France and Japan have called for greater protection of whistleblowers.

other sports Updated: Sep 01, 2016 13:29 IST
AFP
A woman walks into the head office for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in Montreal, Quebec, Canada on November 9, 2015. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi/File Photo
A woman walks into the head office for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in Montreal, Quebec, Canada on November 9, 2015. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi/File Photo(Reuters Photo)

A group of national anti-doping agencies including those from the United States, Britain, France and Japan have called for greater protection of whistleblowers.

The group of 17 national anti-doping agencies known as NADO have also proposed a series of reforms aimed at improving independence and transparency in the fight against drug cheats.

During a two-day summit in Copenhagen, the NADO representatives discussed how to strengthen the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in order to counter “the inappropriate involvement of sport leaders in critical anti-doping decisions and activities”, the group said in a statement on Tuesday.

They also discussed “ensuring a level playing field in countries with failing anti-doping structures, and long overdue reforms to ensure the current and future protection and support of whistleblowers -- including that of Yuliya and Vitaly Stepanov”.

Yuliya Stepnaova, a Russian 800-metre runner, and her husband Vitaly helped lift the lid on Russia’s alleged state-sponsored doping programme, but they have been living in hiding in the United States since the scandal broke last year.

Their evidence led to Russian athletes being banned from competition with only US-based long jumper Darya Klishina being allowed to compete at the Rio Olympics earlier this month.

The country’s entire squad has also been banned from the Paralympics due to start next week.

“We recognize we are at a crossroads in the fight for clean sport,” said the NADO leaders in a joint statement.

“With the best interests of clean athletes at heart, we have come together to discuss reforms that we believe will better protect them, restore confidence in the global anti-doping effort that has been deeply damaged, and ensure that the disturbing events of recent years are not repeated.”

Amongst the proposals, NADO calls for “improved monitoring systems for (the) World Anti-Doping Agency Code”, amendments to the code to “clarify and broaden the range of violations” as well as “independence in governance and operational decisions and activities”.

NADO said that the anti-doping system should be independent not only of sport organisations but even of WADA.

That would mean WADA president Craig Reedie being unable to maintain both his role and a position as a vice-president of the International Olympic Committee.

NADO wants to prevent anyone from “simultaneously” holding positions of power in an anti-doping agency as well as an international federation or major sports event organisation.

Finally, NADO called for “meaningful recognition and compensation for their courageous contributions” for the Stepanovs and other whistleblowers in the future.