When Rio de Janeiro in Brazil in 2016 will be hosting the Olympic Games, it is a result of bad judgement of IOC.
That is the message from Herman Ram, director of the Dutch anti-doping authority. Along with Russia, who will host the Olympic Winter Games shortly, Brazil is one of the main concerns, Ram says.
“I think it is unacceptable that the IOC has decided to choose those countries who at that point in time already were completely non-compliant and had actually plans, but they were only there on paper,” Herman Ram says.
No games without better anti-doping effort
All though other smaller countries may have bigger problems in the fight against doping, the Dutch director sees the biggest threats in Brazil and Russia.
Herman Ram puts the label “disaster” on Brazil’s fight against doping. He also blames IOC for not putting more pressure on the countries on the anti-doping question.
“You could just demand a good, clear code-compliant program before you award the games. Otherwise, you don’t do it,” Herman Ram says.
This is not a money issue
He further argues that it isn’t that costly to improve the anti-doping effort. He estimates that 10 percent of the budget for the 2016 games in Brazil would bring the effort to a more satisfying level.
“In the end, this is not a money issue. IOC could choose the financially most feasible candidate, and at the same time tackle the anti-doping issues,” Hermad Ram says and adds: “If they wanted.”
Rio de Janeiro won the final round of voting with 66 votes against Madrid’s 32.
How should we prevent athletes to use doping in sports in the future? That is on of the biggest topics at the Play The Game-conference in Aarhus.
The former NBA-player and current Head og Department for UNI Sport Pro, Walter Palmer, belives that there is a doping problem.
But no one knows how big it is – not even WADA. And therefore the athletes a paying a price.
Ineffective anti-doping system a burden for athletes
According to Palmer the anti-doping system from WADA is problematic because the system has not been based om evidence up until this point.
”At the moment we do not know if the athletes are being tested too much. The big issue is that we don’t know what the problem is, and how should we find a solution then? We are operating on a assumption, and maybe it is a valid assumption. But we don’t know how widespread it is and that is a problem for the athletes, who are carrying a heavy burden.”
Up to WADA to define the problem
Therefore WADA has to put a lot of effort to fix the existing program and make it better.
”WADA has declared itself being responsible. It has been giving powers and it creates rules. So if you do that, you have to know that you are doing it right. Are we spending the 350 million dollars on testing in the best way? Maybe there are other ways you could do it better and reduce cheating,” Palmer said.
” A good example is the US Postal case. It was a very important investigation and it’s great that they caught Armstrong. But it doesn’t say much about the testing program, and that’s what we are talking about. He wasn’t caught with a test,” Palmer concludes.
The Olympic Creed also applies in the field of medicine. As the knowledge of the human genes are developing, new ways to enhance the body’s performance through illegal measures are increasing, says German professor Dr. Perikles Simon.
That demands a completely re-designed test system which is supported by an international network of laboratories that add in data on the athletes.
The effort to catch athletes using EPO, blood transfusion and other performance enhancing drugs is far from satisfyingly efficient.
Such is the message from Frederic Donze, director of the European office of the international anti-doping agency WADA, who Monday took part in a panel discussion on the subject at Play the Game in Aarhus.
”We know that 1-2 pct. of athletes worldwide are taken for use of doping, but our understanding from studies and so on is that in reality many more are using doping,” Donze stated, when we spoke to him after the debate.
Timing is the key
Frederic Donze is of the opinion that a lot of the doping using athletes have been tested hundreds of times without being caught.
“Therefore we need to look at new strategies as a supplement to testing in order to catch the real cheaters,” he said.
Would you say that you have gotten as far as you can with normal testing?
“No. Cause otherwise we would probably stop doing it. But it is clear that testing at the moment is not as clever as it could and should be. I think the practice of testing can be better in anti-doping organizations worldwide. The key is to test the right athlete at the right time.”
Biological Passport is part of the future
As an example of an alternative to the testing methods we know today, Donze mentions the athlete biological passport. It gives a better view of the athletes’ data over time, where as the testing method today is only about the day of testing.
”It (biological passport) will be used a lot more in the future. And we hope that we in the long run will see results that will make all countries use the biological passport,” Donze said.
According to him, around 40 cases have so far been upheld by the international sport court CAS based on the biological passport.
In the high profiled doping case against former Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, many still active former team mates witnessed against the American.
Therefore, they received a reduced ban for their own violations of the doping rules. But that kind of amnesty is not the solution to the sport’s doping problems, says Frederic Donze, director of WADA’s European office.
“I think the difficulty about an amnesty is that if you do it, what about other athletes that has been sanctioned in other sports?,” Frederic Donze says.
Harmonization between sports has to be maintained
The same rules have to apply to all sports, the argument is. Therefore, no special rules can be used to clear up the doping mess in a single sport.
“If a basketball player is sanctioned for doping and see that a doped bike rider has benefitted from an amnesty, I think the concept of harmonization and fairness is a bit lost,” Frederic Donze says.
In the Armstrong case, riders as Christian Vandevelde and David Zabriskie only received a six month ban, even during the winter months with few races.
The size of the case is not important
Even though the US Postal case was very high profiled, Frederic Donze is convinced that the witnesses would have received the same ban whatever the size of the case.
“I don’t think we are looking at it from a publicity perspective. It is purely legally speaking. I think it would make no difference if they had revealed doping on a more low profile team,” Frederic Donze says.
Former IOC vice president and WADA president, Richard W. Pound, was on Monday evening presented with the Play the Game 2013-award.
In his speach, Soeren Riiskjaer, vice chairman of the board, stated that change in international sport is not made because journalists, whistleblowers and organisations like Play the Game make lots of noise from the outside.
”Change must come from the inside where you have to be diplomatic, discreet and very low-key. But it is sometimes difficult to find leaders on the inside of sport who are really committed to go to the root of problems”, Mr. Riiskjaer said.
Ruthless and direct
The vice chairman pointed out that there is at least one courageous insider who proves, he can achieve a lot, even if he is often anything but discreet, diplomatic and low-key.
”And we are definitely not talking about a Mr. Nobody in the international sports movement,” Mr. Riiskjaer added.
Before asking Mr. Pound on stage, Soren Riiskjaer called the former IOC vice president’s methods both ruthless and direct when it comes to pointing his fingers at the all too many sore points in the international fight against doping.
In 2011 Jens Weinreich and Andrew Jennings received the Play the Game Award. The award has been given six times since 2002.