New anti-dop­ing rules to pro­tect whis­tle-blow­ers

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport Athletics - By Jeremy Wil­son

Whis­tle-blow­ers will be of­fered en­hanced pro­tec­tion un­der anti-dop­ing rules to be in­tro­duced in Jan­uary, which will also in­clude re­duced sen­tences for the use of some recre­ational drugs.

The up­dated rules, which were pub­lished by UK Anti-Dop­ing yes­ter­day, fol­low changes in the World Anti-Dop­ing Code and ap­ply to ev­ery­one in sport, from ath­letes and coaches to sup­port staff.

The treat­ment of whis­tle-blow­ers, whose in­tel­li­gence is re­garded as crit­i­cal in the fight against dop­ing, will mean that a sep­a­rate of­fence will ap­ply to those who dis­cour­age the re­port­ing of in­for­ma­tion or re­tal­i­ate against an in­di­vid­ual for do­ing so.

There will also be the po­ten­tial for shorter bans for some sub­stances, largely recre­ational drugs, when their use is out-of-com­pe­ti­tion and un­re­lated to per­for­mance. Ath­letes will also be in­cen­tivised to fol­low treat­ment pro­grammes. The list of sub­stances to which this will ap­ply has not yet been pub­lished, but is ex­pected to in­clude cannabis and co­caine.

If, for ex­am­ple, an ath­lete is tested in com­pe­ti­tion and can pro­duce ev­i­dence that the sub­stance was used out of com­pe­ti­tion then the sen­tence would be re­duced from two years to three months. It could go down fur­ther to just one month if the ath­lete com­pletes a re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion pro­gramme.

The ra­tio­nale is that anti-dop­ing should be about catch­ing cheats and that out-of-com­pe­ti­tion recre­ational drug use should be a pub­lic health mat­ter rather than a sports dis­ci­plinary is­sue.

En­gag­ing in fraud­u­lent con­duct, such as sub­mit­ting fal­si­fied doc­u­ments fol­low­ing a vi­o­la­tion, will also be treated as a sep­a­rate of­fence and mean that a fur­ther con­sec­u­tive ban can be ap­plied. Bans will also be in­creased un­der the new rules by an ad­di­tional two years where “ag­gra­vat­ing cir­cum­stances” oc­cur, such as the use of mul­ti­ple pro­hib­ited sub­stances.

The aim of the changes is to bring more flex­i­bil­ity to the sys­tem but recog­nise the im­por­tance of whis­tle-blow­ers. Many of the big­gest dop­ing reve­la­tions of re­cent years, no­tably Lance Arm­strong in cy­cling and the scan­dal which had led to Rus­sia’s Olympic and Par­a­lympic sus­pen­sion, have largely come to light as a re­sult of whis­tle-blow­ers rather than test­ing.

“We have de­vel­oped the new rules to en­sure that we are able to meet the lat­est chal­lenges threat­en­ing clean sport, and that ath­letes and the pub­lic can have con­fi­dence in clean com­pe­ti­tion,” said Ni­cole Sap­stead, Ukad chief ex­ec­u­tive.

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