Already we know that London 2012 will have the most robust testing program at an Olympic and Paralympic Games, and that a state-of-the-art anti-doping laboratory has been set up to operate 24 hours a day so that the results of sample analysis are turned round in double-quick time.
What has been less talked about is the traditional role that WADA plays at Olympic and Paralympic Games, and how the international body responsible for leading the fight against doping in sport fits into the anti-doping jigsaw in London.
As a general rule, the IOC, the IPC and the event organizer – in this case LOCOG – have always been responsible for doping controls that take place during the period of the Games. This is from the moment when athletes first set foot in the Olympic Village on July 16 to the final days of both Games.
There also has been much emphasis put on the testing of athletes worldwide before they leave for the Games. WADA strongly encouraged all ADOs – including the National Anti-Doping Organizations (NADOs), Regional Anti-Doping Organizations (RADOs) and International Federations (IFs) – to ramp up their efforts in a bid to try and catch any doping athletes before they left for training camps in the UK or elsewhere.
All Olympic and Paralympic signatories to the World Anti-Doping Code have the responsibility to try to make the Olympic Games as clean as possible, and WADA will continue to encourage pre-event testing.
Independent Observer Programs
Since WADA was set up in 1999, it has sent an Independent Observer (IO) team to each Olympic and Paralympic Games. It has had IO teams in Sydney (Olympic Games only), Salt Lake City, Athens, Turin, Beijing and Vancouver, and for the 2012 Games the IO Program will again feature.
The purpose of the IO Program has evolved over the years; nowadays it is more interactive and allows WADA to offer the anti-doping advice and guidance that it has built up during its existence. It also enhances athlete and public confidence at major sporting events.
WADA will have two Independent Observer Missions in London, comprising of a team of nine for the Olympics (lead by chairman René Bouchard) and a team of five for the Paralympics (lead by chairman Anders Solheim).
In addition to writing a complete report, the IO team will also give a daily report and deliver crucial feedback and guidance to the IOC, the IPC and LOCOG on a regular basis, thus fully utilizing the skills and experience of IO teams comprising of experts from the fields of law, medicine, sample collection and doping control, and athlete representation.
Athlete Outreach Program
WADA’s Athlete Outreach Program has become a familiar site at Olympic and Paralympic Games since it was first introduced at Salt Lake City in 2002. It has developed into an effective means of reaching out and educating athletes and their entourage on the dangers and consequences of doping.
Once again the program will have a highly-visible location, and will be positioned within the athlete dining hall in the Athletes Village, where competitors can approach the anti-doping experts at their leisure.
Managing the Center at the Olympic Games will be WADA’s Senior Manager Athlete Relations and Communications, Stacy Spletzer-Jegen, who managed the original program in Salt Lake City and has worked at every Olympics since.
Catherine Coley, WADA’s Communications Coordinator, will manage the Paralympics Outreach program, while two teams of anti-doping experts from around the world have been chosen to work at both Games.
The teams have expertise across different areas of anti-doping and crucially will speak a number of languages to account for the wide cultural mix at Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Critical to the success of the Outreach Programs is the one-on-one interaction that athletes, coaches and officials receive with the anti-doping experts. This is backed up by a variety of educational materials and a quiz that is designed to be fun, as well as informative.
Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs)
Athletes with a documented medical condition that requires the use of a prohibited substance or method can obtain a TUE. This is clearly set out in the Code and the TUE must be obtained in accordance with the International Standard for TUEs.
Usually, it is the responsibility of the IFs to manage this process for athletes in their Registered Testing Pool and for any of their athletes taking part in an international event.
While it is generally expected that most athletes in need of a TUE will already have one in place for London 2012, athletes can also apply to the IOC for a TUE to cover their participation at the Olympic Games. The conditions for this are laid out in the IOC’s Anti-Doping Rules which were published at the end of 2011.
WADA is informed of all TUE decisions, and it is then WADA’s role to decide whether or not to review any TUE decisions made by the IOC in accordance with the London 2012 Anti-Doping Rules.
WADA’s Right of Appeal
While the IOC and IPC are responsible for all results management and anti-doping decisions taken during the Olympic and Paralympic Games, WADA – pursuant to the Code – has the right to appeal these decisions.
The principle for this appeal process is the same for any anti-doping decision taken by signatories to the Code, which includes both the IOC and IPC.
When possible, the entire disciplinary procedure will take place within 24 hours from when the athlete is informed of the violation.
All disciplinary actions in relation to the Games, including sanctions and disqualifications, are taken by the IOC and IPC, and as with all anti-doping decisions these can be appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which will operate a special ad-hoc court during the Games to allow for speedy hearings and decisions.
WADA is amongst the parties who can exercise this right of appeal, while any subsequent actions and decisions taken by IFs are also subject to the same appeal process.