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Archive for  October 2016

Tuesday 11, Oct 2016

WADA Should Be More Powerful, Says IOC

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The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has remarked it wants to give more power to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in the fight against drug-cheating by athletes.

The IOC announced it was agreed at a meeting of world sports leaders that the World Anti-Doping Agency should oversee the testing of athletes while sanctions would be decided by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). Presently, testing is conducted by either national anti-doping agencies or international sports federations, who also decide sanctions. The role of WADA currently is primarily a regulatory one which includes compiling the list of banned substances.

The so-called Olympics Summit also proposed that WADA should have more control over national anti-doping agencies, and should supervise national anti-doping programs.

WADA president Craig Reedie said the anti-doping agency welcomes all constructive proposals aimed at reinforcing clean sport. Reedie added the meeting was another step towards strengthening WADA and the global anti-doping system. The World Anti-Doping Agency president also commented that the recommendations that were put forward today will be considered along with others that we have received from stakeholders on such key topics as WADA’s governance and funding model, consequences for non-compliance, investigations, and testing.

The proposals of IOC are expected to be approved at WADA’s next meeting in November. Reedie remarked we are to be given substantial additional authority and substantial additional power, so he is fairly happy with that. The WADA chief added we have been given powers on compliance and we are going to produce a whole range of potential sanctions for different degrees of non-compliance, so that is in our hands and we will do that. IOC President Thomas Bach agreed that the annual budget of WADA would now need an increase. Recently, Reedie said the annual budget of around $30 million, funded partly by national governments and partly by the International Olympic Committee, is not enough. The IOC vowed to help WADA increase its annual budget if it made changes in line with its recommendations.

The IOC urged WADA to significantly improve its information security standards in the wake of the Fancy Bears hack that revealed details of therapeutic use exemptions of athletes for banned substances. The IOC also called upon WADA to lead a more robust, more efficient, more transparent and more harmonized anti-doping system.

The Institute of National Anti-Doping Organizations (iNADO), which represents the national anti-doping bodies, remarked it would not be right to give more power over testing to the same body that rules on the cases that follow. iNADO added there were several “troubling omissions” from the plan of IOC and added there is nothing explicit about state-sponsored doping in Russia, or about the moral responsibility of the IOC to push Russian sport and sport leaders to necessary cultural change in that country for genuinely protecting clean sport.

The meeting, in a show of unity after sharp divisions caused by the Russian doping scandal, came following a spate of public attacks on the World Anti-Doping Agency by several International Olympic Committee members.

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Sunday 09, Oct 2016

Anti-Doping System ‘Not Broken’, Says Athlete Commission Head

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Beckie Scott, the head of WADA’s athlete commission, has contended that the global anti-doping system is not “broken”. The former Olympic cross-country skier from Canada lamented that politics surrounding the Russian doping scandal has sown “discord” in the fight against performance enhancing drugs.

Scott urged all sides to put aside their differences and work together to combat an undeniable threat to the integrity of sport today. In an op-ed released by the Montreal-based agency, Beckie Scott, who chairs the World Anti-Doping Agency athlete committee, said the World Anti-Doping Agency has come under intense criticism and scrutiny in the wake of the allegations of state-backed doping in Russia. She remarked WADA has been right to successfully fulfilling their mandate and taking the necessary decisions. Beckie Scott said the “system” is not broken and said a “broken” system would not have exposed systematic and state-controlled doping in Russia.

WADA has been criticized by several IOC members who accused the agency of failing to act sooner on the Russian doping problems. These IOC members also criticized the anti-doping agency for releasing report by investigator Richard McLaren on systematic Russian doping just weeks before the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. The McLaren report led WADA to call for the exclusion of the entire Russian team from the Rio Games. The recommendation of WADA was rejected by the IOC and the Olympic body instead asked individual sports federations to determine which Russian athletes could compete.

Scott said it is unacceptable that there is a sense of discord when there should be harmony when it comes to clean, fair sport. The head of WADA’s athlete commission also remarked almost every day someone new from the Olympic family takes to the media with the critical claim that the global anti-doping system is broken. Highly critical assessments of WADA have been issued by International Olympic Committee members Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr., Sergei Bubka and Gerardo Werthein in recent weeks. Scott said cynicism alone will not win the fight and added the issue has become so deeply divisive and conflicted among stakeholders that it seems athletes have another competitor in the ring — politics. Scott also added we have to be solution focused and can no longer afford to become subject to the politics, conflicted interests and game-playing that has held us back for so long and added WADA needs better funding for clean, legitimate sport.

In another development, Travis Tygart, chief executive of the U.S. Anti-Doping agency, said separating the anti-doping efforts from sports organizations would be an important step forward. Tygart remarked removal of the fox guarding the henhouse has been one of the principles we’ve been talking about for years. The USADA chief added sport leaders are concerned with marketability and the brand and then what happens is the status quo prevails until there is a scandal that harms and taints the brand and only then do they react to clean it up.

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach will convene a summit in Switzerland to address the ongoing Russian doping crisis. There is a possibility that the IOC can be separated further from the testing process; it currently runs the lab at the Games. The role of WADA will also likely be discussed as some IOC members have floated the concept of creating a new organization to oversee anti-doping testing and enforcement.

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Friday 07, Oct 2016

IOC Must Redeem Itself After Rio Failure, Says iNADO

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The 59-member global Institute of National Anti-Doping Organizations (iNADO) said in a strongly-worded statement that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) “lost the anti-doping battle” before August’s Olympics began.

The iNADO remarked the IOC can redeem itself in time for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games. The International Olympic Committee resisted calls for a blanket ban on Russians competing in the Rio Games because of the doping record of the country. The IOC however decided to leave decision on participation of individual athletes with their sports federations. The International Paralympic Committee (IPC), on the other hand, issued a blanket ban on Russian athletes.

In a statement, iNADO said the International Olympic Committee had ignored its “own calls for harmony and independence” as well as recommendation of the World Anti-Doping Agency of a complete ban on Russians from the Olympics. A three-person IOC panel ratified the individual governing bodies’ decisions on who was eligible and more than 270 Russians were cleared to compete at the Rio Olympics. The iNADO went on to compare Russians competing in Rio to the disqualification of Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson for doping at Seoul in 1988 after breaking the 100m world record in the final. It remarked this year’s Games will be remembered for the participation of athletes served by a Russian system that corrupted clean sport just as the 1988 Seoul Olympics are remembered for Ben Johnson’s infamy. The iNADO added in the statement that the IOC, equally disappointing in the eyes of many, chose to associate itself with such a system by failing to reject it categorically.

Joseph de Pencier, chief executive of the global Institute of National Anti-Doping Organizations, said the IOC must ensure that the reception of Russian athletes in Pyeongchang is very different than the one in Rio.

The 59-member global Institute of National Anti-Doping Organizations said the IOC could redeem itself before the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The group said a starting point will be to recognize the findings of the McLaren report, the WADA-commissioned investigation which revealed the state-sponsored doping, were well-documented and reliable. It also said the IOC members should cease attacks on the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) that commissioned the report.

The global Institute of National Anti-Doping Organizations said the task of convincing Russia, its athletes and the country’s sporting leaders of the cultural change needed was “enormous”. It further added anti-doping is not “political” and said it is at the heart of true sport and further commented let the IOC help us hear Russian voices acknowledge that and see Russian decision-makers act on it.

The iNADO added whistleblowers should be encouraged and added the independence of WADA should be strengthened, with the agency given the investigative capacity it requires. It was also suggested by iNADO that Olympic sponsors and broadcasters should “contribute meaningfully” to anti-doping, if only to protect their own substantial investments. It was also suggested that governance in sporting organizations needed to be improved to restore confidence, with public oversight of operations and spending.

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Wednesday 05, Oct 2016

Doping Ban Of Maria Sharapova Reduced

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The Court of Arbitration for Sport has reduced doping ban on tennis player Maria Sharapova. The CAS announced the two-year ban on Sharapova has been reduced by nine months.

Sharapova remarked she had learned a lesson from the “tough months” behind her. In a message to fans on her Facebook page, Maria Sharapova said she feels in so many ways like something she loves was taken away from her and it will feel really good to have it back.

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) handed the original ban – backdated to start on January 26, 2016 to Sharapova, a five-time major singles champion, following her positive test for the drug Meldonium. The 29-year-old Sharapova had termed the original ruling of the ITF as “unfairly harsh” as an independent tribunal had found that the tennis player had not intentionally violated anti-doping rules.

Sharapova did admit to making use of Meldonium during the season’s opening major in Melbourne but said she had been unaware that it had been banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). Sharapova went on to say that she started to believe the ITF tried to make an example of her by handing her a two-year ban after she tested positive for Meldonium.  The substance was added to the list of banned substances of WADA at the start of the year after mounting evidence that it has the ability to improve blood flow and enhance athletic performance.

Sharapova was backed up by her attorney John Haggerty who criticized the ITF for their failure to properly warn his client. Haggerty remarked Maria took responsibility for her mistake and the ITF handled this matter poorly from start to finish. The attorney of Sharapova added it is time for the International Tennis Federation to take responsibility for its mistakes and change its procedures so that this can never happen to another player. Haggerty added the ITF has a lot to learn based on this ruling.

In response, the ITF issued a statement in which it remarked it had taken appropriate action to inform players, including Sharapova, of changes to the banned list. The world governing body of tennis said it would continue to review the way it communicated with them. The ITF statement further reads it believes that the appropriate steps were taken to publicize any changes to the Prohibited List and added we have nonetheless reviewed, and will continue to review, our processes for communicating changes to the Prohibited List to players with the aim of ensuring that no player can claim that they had not been fully informed.

The CAS arbitration panel ruled she had committed an anti-doping rule violation for which “she bore some degree of fault”. The panel also remarked the decision to reduce the ban concerned solely on the degree of fault that can be imputed to the player for her failure to make sure that the substance contained in a product that she had been taking over a long period remained in compliance with the anti-doping rules.

Maria Sharapova can now expect herself to be back in the court as early as the 2017 French Open, scheduled to begin on May 29.

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Monday 03, Oct 2016

Doping Progress Hailed By Tour De France Chief

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Christian Prudhomme, the general director of the Tour de France since 2007, has remarked anti-doping measures in the recent past have significantly changed image of cycling. Prudhomme said he believes that doping in cycling is under control and that all the measures that have been taken should be enough.

The Frenchman added cycling is no longer the principal sport to provide news on the use of illegal substances.  Long associated with systematic doping, cycling has been spared such close scrutiny during recent affairs that have plagued athletics, football, and the International Olympic Committee.

Till few years back, cycling was in all kinds of controversies ever since the Lance Armstrong doping scandal broke out. The disgraced cyclist, who was denied doping throughout his illustrious career, finally admitted to making use of banned substances and techniques such as blood doping, testosterone, cortisone, and human growth hormone during a televised interview with Oprah Winfrey.

Prudhomme also commented there is no longer a feeling in the sport that change is necessary and said you don’t see champions who come from nowhere any more. The former French journalist the absence of champions coming “out of nowhere” and the believable and mappable progress of young riders has done the job for cycling. Prudhomme said the likes of Nairo Quintana and Esteban Chaves have a pedigree, they shone on the Tour de l’Avenir and it is reassuring.

The Tour de l’Avenir is the most prestigious under-23 race in the world and both Chaves and Quintana – who have finished on the podiums of the Tour de France and the Vuelta a Espana over the last few years – performed very well in their youth. The Tour de France chief also commented that the change in communication with the sport has been a huge factor in the progress he has seen. Prudhomme said cycling was seen as a closed sport until recently but it is not anymore and people talk. Prudhomme went on to comment that cycling has been cleaning up its act and added it was not easy but it has been cleaning up its act. He also said we want sport to be perfect, while society will never be and also said society is not full of saints or full of crooks. Prudhomme also said all the cheats and the liars on this earth did not gather up one day to decide they would be taking up cycling.

Prudhomme took charge of the Tour de France by inheriting the mantel of his predecessor, Jean-Marie Leblanc, in 2006, the year of the Operación Puerto doping scandal. Prudhomme has overseen doping scandals in 2007, 2008, and 2010 but admitted revelations about mechanical doping earlier this year was something he was not prepared for. The Frenchman called mechanical doping the “biggest challenge facing cycling.” The Tour de France director said he was scared eight days before the Tour of the rumors would mar the race but was relieved after the secretary of state announced the use of thermal imaging cameras to help locate any motors being used in the peloton.

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Saturday 01, Oct 2016

UCI Lobbying WADA To Ban Tramadol

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UCI President Brian Cookson has expressed his disappointment over the fact that Tramadol, an opioid pain medication used to treat moderate to moderately severe pain, is still not added to the list of banned substances of the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Cookson added we are pretty clear that this is something that is being abused. The UCI President said it is years now and it goes back before his time. Cookson said his predecessors asked WADA to look at this and it has been on the watch list for all these times and further commented that they looked at it again this year and have concluded that there is still not sufficient evidence to put it on the banned list.

A UCI spokesman said the world governing body of cycling is pushing WADA to tackle the issue. The spokesman added the UCI in March 2011 formally requested that WADA consider adding Tramadol to the List of Prohibited Substances. The UCI spokesman said the UCI expressly reiterated its request in 2015 to WADA to include Tramadol on the Prohibited List and added we have this year again reiterated our request to have Tramadol banned in-competition. It was further remarked by the spokesman that we along with Cycling Anti-Doping Federation are currently lobbying to have Tramadol included on the Prohibited List.

In November last year, Cycling Anti-Doping Commission director Francesca Rossi had claimed there would be around 675 positive tests if Tramadol was added to the WADA banned list. Used as a painkiller, Tramadol has side effects including drowsiness, nausea, and dizziness and the substance has been blamed by many for crashes within the peloton.

In 2014 former pro Michael Barry acknowledged in his autobiography that Tramadol was used by riders when he was part of Team Sky. Barry added he frequently saw them being administered it prior to his retirement in 2012. Team Sky then urged the opioid to be added to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s banned list. The Team called for Tramadol to be outlawed so its use can be regulated using therapeutic use exemption certificates (TUEs). A Team Sky spokesperson had then remarked none of our riders should ride whilst using Tramadol and added Team Sky do not give it to riders whilst racing or training, either as a pre-emptive measure or to manage existing pain. The spokesman went on to add then that we believe that its side effects, such as dizziness and drowsiness, could cause issues for the safety of all riders and added we also feel that if a rider has the level of severe pain for its appropriate use they should not be riding.

Barry was a witness in the United States Anti-doping Agency investigation into the United States Postal Service team that resulted in the downfall of Lance Armstrong after which he confessed to using performance-enhancing drugs at the end of his career. Barry also admitted he made use of Tramadol to treat legitimate complaints but got worried he researched about the drug on the internet.

Last month, a WADA spokesman confirmed nothing will change for next season. The spokesman added Tramadol is on the monitoring program, on the watch list and also remarked it was there for 2015, and it is remaining there in 2016 and so it would not be on the prohibited list.

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