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Archive for  May 2016

Tuesday 10, May 2016

Sports Warned By ASC About Match-Fixing And Doping Risks

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John Wylie, chairman of the Australian Sports Commission, has written to professional clubs and national associations across the country imploring board directors to follow new integrity guidelines to help insulating their organizations from the growing risks of match-fixing and doping.

Wylie remarked the integrity risks to sport are increasing in a range of areas, not just in doping and illicit drugs but in match-fixing and areas like that. The chairman of the Australian Sports Commission also commented that we wanted to provide practical guidance to directors of sports boards as to what are the questions they should be asking around the board table to maximize the likelihood that they can avoid any problems in integrity in their sport and their clubs. Wylie also said the risks are going up and that means the reputational risk to directors is increasing so we felt that there is a very important goal there for the sports commission.

The ASC, which oversees more than $134 million of federal government funding to sports, sent a five-page document imploring volunteer directors to be vigilant. The guidelines of ASC include advice to sport directors to sit in and hear briefings at least once a year given by their sport’s anti-corruption officials to players. The ASC guidelines also suggested that the directors should ask questions pertaining to sports medicine and sports science, illicit drugs, anti-doping, child protection, and match-fixing.

Wylie said frankly a lot of directors on the sports boards do not know what questions to ask but no one wants to be a director of an organization where things blow up into an integrity crisis so we are trying to help them minimize the risks. The Australian Sports Commission chairman added directors should be aware of what the trends are in betting, they should be making sure that their sporting code is working with all the international organizations that monitor sports betting, for example and also said being fully informed is an essential part of minimizing the risk for directors. The new guidelines for directors were not mandatory and not associated to funding of individual sports, said Wylie. The ASC chairman also said the integrity of sport is fundamental to spectators’ confidence in the sports and to the long-term success of the sport.

Major football codes of Australia have been gripped by high-profile doping scandals in recent times with Essendon and Cronulla being the big names. There have also been prominent match-fixing affairs in the Victorian League Soccer and the NRL in recent years.

In a recently-released by the World Anti-Doping Agency listing the top 10 nations with maximum drug offences in 2014, Australia was on the seventh spot with 49 recorded doping offences. This count included 20 in rugby league, nine in bodybuilding, four in life-saving, three in athletics, two in Australian rules for football, two in cycling, among others. Russia was on the top of the list followed by Italy and India. Belgium, France and Turkey landed the fourth, fifth, and sixth positions. WADA Director General David Howman remarked the report is strictly evidence-based.

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Sunday 08, May 2016

Sochi Doping Allegations Dismissed By Russia As ‘Speculation’

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Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko has remarked accusations that four gold medal winners from Russia at the Sochi Olympics made use of performance enhancing drugs are just “speculation.”

The allegations were made by former Russian anti-doping officer Vitaly Stepanov in an interview with “60 Minutes” due to air this Sunday. An excerpt was shown on Friday by “CBS Evening News.”

Stepanov said former head of the Moscow anti-doping laboratory Grigory Rodchenkov told him intelligence officers of Russia assisted athletes of the country in covering up use of performance enhancing drugs. Stepanov also said Rodchenkov has a “Sochi list” of Russians who competed in the 2014 Winter Olympics on anabolic androgenic steroids, including at least four gold medal winners. Hosts Russia won 13 gold medals at Sochi.

A WADA independent commission report in November claimed Rodchenkov requested and accepted money to conceal positive drug tests after which he immediately resigned.

Reacting to the allegations, Russian Sports Minister said Stepanov is riding his hobby-horse again. Mutko added he will endlessly talk about doping in Russian sports and also commented this was in the German TV Channel ARD’s documentary entitled Geheimsache Doping – Secret Doping Case and appeared in later films. In the German documentary, Stepanov and his wife, banned athlete Yuliya Stepanova claimed systematic doping in Russian athletics in 2014. Their allegations were later supported by a report of the World Anti-Doping Agency independent commission that found evidence of “state-sponsored” doping and widespread corruption. The sports minister of Russia also remarked all his so-called revelations are based on speculations and are being actively distributed.

Mutko also said the Olympics in Sochi have ended a long time ago and also said not Russia collected doping tests then and everything was held under very strict control. The Moscow anti-doping lab operated on-site testing facilities at the Sochi Olympics although it was under the supervision of the International Olympic Committee. The Russian Sports Minister also said our athletes will have to perform at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. It is obvious that someone wants to harm Russian sports. Mutko also said Stepanov has exhausted the topic of doping in athletics, now he has probably started with the Sochi Olympics.

In November, the International Association of Athletics Federations suspended Russia. An IAAF council meeting in June will decide if the track and field team of Russia can compete in the Rio Olympics in August. Russia now has to convince the IAAF, the world governing body of athletics, that it has put measures in place to show anti-doping operation improvement and a “change of culture.”

The Rio athletics program starts on August 12 but registration are required to be completed about a month before. This would leave little time for the vast majority of Russian athletes who would still need to record Olympic-standard qualifying times.

US Anti-Doping Agency chief Travis Tygart said Russian athletics has not done enough to warrant reinstatement. Tygart added USADA is “not in favor” of Russian athletes competing in Rio Olympics.

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Friday 06, May 2016

WADA President Assures Clean Olympics

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World Anti-Doping Agency president Sir Craig Reedie has assured athletes they can trust the drug-testing system despite a recent spate of issues at anti-doping laboratories.

WADA recently suspended accreditation of laboratories in Beijing, Bloemfontein, and Lisbon. News of the suspension of Portuguese centre came on the same day the World Anti-Doping Agency revoked the scandal-hit Moscow laboratory’s accreditation. These four labs combined to do 15 percent of all tests conducted by the anti-doping centers of WADA in 2014. Reedie remarked suspensions of the laboratories were a direct result of WADA’s strengthened laboratory monitoring process noting the high level of interest surrounding the recent suspensions. The 75-year-old Scot added it is for this very reason that clean athletes should have full confidence in the system.

The Beijing, Bloemfontein, and Lisbon laboratories lost their right to test samples because WADA found their failure to either detect banned substances or they reported false positives, often because of outdated equipment.

Reedie added more testing will be done across the board ahead of the Games rather than less despite these closures, and that will be done by individual sports and countries. Testing is actually busier than it’s been before. The WADA President added the system will continue to work properly and, as far as the Olympics are concerned, we have a task force coming back with good reports from Rio de Janeiro about the laboratory getting up to speed there for the Olympics. Reedie also commented that there are sensible procedures in place for the build-up to the Games and during them to ensure that people are properly tested.

The World Anti-Doping Agency president said the suspended laboratories would get assistance from the Montreal-based organization. Reedie said this assistance would be to improve standards of the laboratories so they can make a return to the fight against doping. However, Reedie’s predecessor Dick Pound, has a simpler remedy to get rid of the failing labs and concentrate on a few good ones.

Pound, while speaking at the Sport Resolutions conference in London, said it is not as important as whether a specific country has a lab or not as if it is got one within reasonable reach. The former WADA chief said he would rather than 10 really good labs than 35 of them with 25 that are not very good. The comments of Pound were supported by Richard Ings, the former boss of the Australian Sports Anti-doping Authority, who remarked they need 10-12 mega labs with cutting-edge equipment, great training and, most critically, the analytical ability to detect all doping substances and added that would also give them the scale to significantly push down the cost per test.

The assurance of Reedie that other WADA-accredited laboratories would be able to fill the breach left by the suspended centers in leading Olympic nations such as China and Russia did not convinced Renee Anne Shirley, the ex-head of Jamaica’s Anti-Doping Commission. Renee raised questions on ability of other labs for handling an influx of samples and still managing to maintain rigor and turnaround time. The former head of Jamaica’s Anti-Doping Commission added the costs are already huge, in particular the shipping costs and several of the laboratories still accredited cannot handle some of the more sophisticated tests.

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Wednesday 04, May 2016

Accreditation Of Africa’s Only Doping Lab Suspended By WADA

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Accreditation Of Africa’s Only Doping Lab Suspended By WADA

On Tuesday, the World Anti-Doping Agency suspended the accreditation of the drug-testing laboratory in South Africa, which is the only accredited facility in Africa until after the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

Suspension of the accreditation means the South African doping control laboratory in Bloemfontein would now not be able to analyze any doping samples for five months — until September 30 — for failing to meet WADA standards.  The lab in the central city of Bloemfontein receives doping test samples from many other African countries, including top distance-running nations Kenya and Ethiopia and they now have to use other facilities.

Lacea Loader, communications director at the University of the Free State, said the lab did not plan to appeal the suspension as the shutdown was planned with the World Anti-Doping Agency to allow the facility to upgrade equipment and give staff more training. She remarked it was an amicable decision made in conjunction with WADA and added the facility is expected to re-open once the necessary steps have been taken.

The lab said it was not possible to upgrade its services while still continuing with its day-to-day work associated with testing samples. In a statement, the lab said technical and infrastructure adaptations need to be continuously implemented in the laboratory to keep up with the demands because of ever-increasing demands on the number, variety and analytical sensitivity of compounds to be analyzed according to the Prohibited List of WADA. It was also remarked that this has to be done while normal routine analysis continues and it became clear that at present, implementation cannot be successfully accomplished together with the workload from normal routine analyses.

In a statement, WADA said the suspension covers all anti-doping testing including analyses of urine and blood samples. It was further added by WADA that samples during the period of suspension are required to be transported securely to another WADA-accredited laboratory, ensuring that athletes can have full confidence in continued high quality sample analysis and the wider anti-doping system.

The lab, which is based at Bloemfontein’s University of the Free State, previously said it would be upgrading its facilities for six months from the beginning of April and would send some samples to Doha to be tested during that time. It said urine samples would be sent to Doha but would still be able to analyze blood samples. However, the recent suspension imposed by WADA means the South African lab cannot analyze any samples. The World Anti-Doping Agency remarked the lab can apply for the suspension to be lifted before September 30.

South Africa is due to host the African Track And Field Championships in June but the decision of WADA will complicate the doping control program for the championships as organizers now set to have to fly samples to a laboratory on another continent.

Last month, the World Anti-Doping Agency suspended the accreditations of doping labs in Beijing and Lisbon, Portugal, and revoked the accreditation of the lab in Moscow after allegations of wide-ranging corruption in the anti-doping program of Russia. Brazil managed to avoid losing the accreditation of its lab in Rio de Janeiro in March; the lab needs to test thousands of doping samples at the Olympics in August.

pdf_iconDownload in PDF: Accreditation Of Africa’s Only Doping Lab Suspended By WADA

Monday 02, May 2016

Bill To Prevent Doping In American Thoroughbred Racing Introduced

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Backers of a bill that is meant to put all matters related to use of drugs and medications in American thoroughbred racing under the US Anti-Doping Agency have been put before members of the Congressional Horse Caucus.

The Thoroughbred Horseracing Integrity Act of 2015 (HR 3084) proposes that all rule-making, testing, and enforcement as it relates to drugs and medications must be placed under the jurisdiction of an entity created under the United States Anti-Doping Agency. Supporters of the bill are hopeful that they will manage to get the bill a Congressional committee or sub-committee that would be an important step towards getting it passed into law.

A few days back, eminent personalities from the horse racing industry appeared before members of Congress who form the Horse Caucus to put their case for the bill. The caucus includes 28 representatives from both parties, and is entrusted with the task of raising awareness of the American equine industry and its economic impact on the United States.

The bill presently has the support of 33 bipartisan members from the House of Representatives, including cosponsors from California, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, and South Carolina. Representatives of the industry were sent invitation for participating in the panel in Washington DC by Congressional Horse Caucus co-chairmen Andy Barr (R-Ky.) and Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), who introduced the bipartisan bill last July. This hearing is seen by many as an educational opportunity for members of Horse Caucus and the industry for examining the legislation.

Panelists who spoke included National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association chief executive Eric Hamelback, racehorse owner/professional chef Bobby Flay, former Maryland Jockey Club owner Joe De Francis,  Breeders Cup Ltd president and chief executive Craig Fravel, and Chauncey Morris, who is executive director of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association and Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Inc.

Flay remarked we have not been even remotely close to getting everyone on the same page because we are a sea of individual jurisdictions and he can say with the utmost certainty that will never happen. The racehorse owner/professional chef added we need federal oversight and we need it now and also remarked that we need to rebuild the reputation of American horse racing so that the general public understands without question that we are putting the health and well-being of the horse first and foremost in the equation.

Breeders Cup Ltd president and chief executive Craig Fravel remarked we should not confuse progress with success and we who profess our commitment to integrity, uniformity and transparency should not be content with any system so long as there is room for major improvement. Fravel also commented that the system contemplated by HR 3084 shrinks 38 rulemaking and enforcement bodies to one and also said it creates a system that makes sense, and he wants to thank Congressman Barr and Congressman Tonko for their concern for our industry and their support for an effort to make a great sport as good as it can be.

pdf_iconDownload in PDF: Bill To Prevent Doping In American Thoroughbred Racing Introduced

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