Antidoping Leaders Urge Independence for Watchdogs

After the 2016 Olympics drew attention to the conflicts of interest that antidoping agencies often face, a coalition called for reforms to better separate these watchdogs from the sporting groups to which they report.

With the 2016 Rio Olympics—and that event’s notable doping scandals—in the rearview mirror, antidoping watchdogs are calling for some major governance changes to ensure that their investigations and punishments are taken seriously.

During a summit of national antidoping organizations this week, leaders of these groups called for a meeting between the executive committee of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

The goal of such a meeting? To ensure there’s more separation between watchdogs and the broader governing bodies they serve, due to the natural conflicts of interest that doping cases create.

“Athletes want to compete clean and win,” the leaders said a joint statement reported by Around the Rings. “We must restore confidence that anti-doping efforts truly protect the rights of clean athletes, as well as the public’s desire for a fair and level playing field. All of the reforms agreed upon today, especially ensuring sport interests do not influence the global regulator—WADA—will help to better protect the rights of clean athletes and uphold a level playing field.”

This issue was central to the scandal involving Russian athletes accused of doping, which was allegedly state-sponsored. While WADA called for tough punishment of the country’s entire athletic stable, basing their recommendations on the findings from an independent investigation, the IOC ultimately compromised, allowing individual athletes to prove their innocence and compete in the Olympics.

That saga drew attention to WADA’s governance structure. The organization, as the New York Times notes, is not an independent agency and remains partly funded by the IOC. Its current leader, Craig Reedie, is a former IOC vice president.

(Shawn Carpenter/Flickr)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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