WADA Executive supports “whereabouts” clause

Last Updated: May 11, 2010, 09:17 AM IST

Mumbai: The Executive Committee and Foundation Board of the World Anti-Doping Agency have endorsed the current system of athlete whereabouts requirement, rejected by the Indian Cricket Board, at its meeting over the week-end in Montreal.

Results of a survey circulated earlier this year by WADA to anti-doping organisations showed that Anti-Doping Code signatories overwhelmingly supported the principle of whereabouts and reported successful implementation of the rules, a media release from the WADA said on Monday.

The survey showed there existed some misunderstanding from a number of anti-doping organisations as to the purpose of whereabouts requirements and WADA chief John Fahey called for user-friendly guidelines to help IFs and National Anti Doping Organisations implement them.

“Whereabouts information is a key element of effective out-of-competition testing programs,” said WADA president Fahey.

“But they must be used by anti-doping organisations to design and implement truly effective testing programmes targeting top level athletes, not just to systematically receive information from disproportionately high or low numbers of athletes that they will then not use.”

“The provisional results of the review clearly indicated a need for user-friendly guidelines that can help IFs and NADOs enforce the whereabouts rules,” Fahey said.

As a way out, WADA has decided to consult athletes and its Code signatories to come up with improvements ahead of the meeting of the Executive Committee and Foundation Board in November.

“A working group comprised of individuals from various stakeholders will now continue to consult with athletes and Code signatories and will present potential recommendations for practical improvements at the November meetings of WADA’s Executive Committee and Foundation Board,” Fahey said.

The contentious clause requires athletes in the common testing pool to furnish details of their whereabouts three months in advance to the anti-doping authorities.

Indian cricketers have rejected the “whereabouts” clause of the WADA Code, saying it’s a violation of their fundamental right to privacy and poses a security threat and the BCCI has supported their stand.

The ICC had last October decided to “suspend” the “whereabouts” clause until the concerns of the Indian players were sorted out.

Last week, WADA’s Media Relations and Communications Senior Manager Frederic Donze, in an e-mail, said that the ICC’s anti-doping rules were “in compliance with the World Anti-Doping Code”.

“WADA continues to work with the ICC in the expectation that their out-of-competition testing programme, which has started, will advance and that the whereabouts requirements of the International Standard for Testing will be applied in cricket,” he said.

At its week-end meetings, WADA also decided to send an independent observer and athlete outreach teams to the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi in October and the Asian Games in Guangzhou, China in November.

Twenty20 cricket, for men and women, is part of the programme at the Asiad, the first time the sport is to be played at the quarterly Pan-Asian sports extravaganza.

The WADA Committee also endorsed the approval of non-WADA accredited laboratories (forensic laboratories, clinical laboratories) for blood analysis to support the “Athlete Biological Passport” programme.

This decision followed a number of requests from stakeholders to use properly approved, non-WADA accredited facilities to increase the number of laboratories worldwide that have the capacity to analyse blood for the specific purpose of this programme, the release said.

“This is a significant step forward that the anti-doping community will welcome,” said the WADA chief.

The Executive Committee also approved protocols to foster cooperation between anti-doping organisations by which they can request permission to test at an event where they are not the ruling body by sending it 35 days in advance.

In case of refusal or non-response by the ruling body, a request to WADA at least 21 days prior to the event can be made, followed by contact between WADA and the ruling body, and then a final decision by WADA, the release said.

The responsibility for testing at international sporting events lies with the controlling international federation for the event, while National Anti-Doping Organisations are responsible for testing at national events.

However, article 15.1 of the Code provides that anti-doping organisations can request permission to test at an event where they are not the ruling body, the release pointed out.

“We are confident that this protocol will provide the anti-doping community with an additional tool to ensure effective in-competition anti-doping programs,” said WADA’s Director General David Howman.

“As the independent organisation responsible for monitoring the global fight against doping in sport, WADA constantly strives to foster cooperation between its stakeholders. The formalisation of these guidelines is a further step in that direction,” he added.