Paul Melia, President and CEO of the CCES, made the comments in reaction to a damning report issued today by an independent commission convened by WADA and chaired by Canadian Dick Pound – read our coverage here.
In its report, the commission points to evidence of widespread doping and corruption, and to systemic failures within the Russian sport system and the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).
“The findings are profoundly disturbing and extremely disappointing,” said Melia. “WADA has put the rules in place and is mandated to oversee anti-doping efforts around the world; but, clearly, this report confirms there’s still a long way to go before we have a level playing field for athletes who choose to compete clean. And it’s not just a problem in Russia, and not just a problem in Athletics. The findings released today will impact all athletes and all sports. Without clear values to help shape the system, greed, corruption, winning-at-all-costs and other threats can take over.”
Melia congratulated the commission for its efforts and expressed full support for the commission’s recommendations, including the suspension of the Russian Athletics Federation which could mean banning Russian track and field athletes from next year’s Olympic Summer Games in Rio. He also supported Mr. Pound’s call for a significant increase in resourcing for international anti-doping efforts.
“With current resourcing, it’s like using an eye dropper full of chlorine for an Olympic-sized pool and taking a leap of faith to believe that it’s clean,” he added. “We learned our lesson in 1988, and we’re taking significant steps in Canada to ensure we’re compliant with the new World Anti-Doping Code, but our work is greatly eroded when WADA is not able to hold all international sport federations to the same standards.”
Melia pointed to recent improvements to the Canadian Anti-Doping Program (CADP) as evidence of what can be accomplished when government, national sport organizations and the independent anti-doping organization are all committed to clean sport.
“Our revamped program was introduced in January of this year and we know that the new CADP – with its emphasis on education, increased testing, intelligence gathering and targeted investigations – is working. We are working hard on behalf of clean athletes. The benefits of sport free from doping are too valuable to squander with anything less than fully Code-compliant and ISO-certified anti-doping efforts which are independent of sport and independent of government,” said Melia.
In the three-month period leading up to the Toronto Pan America Games, for example, there were 1,037 urine tests conducted on Canadian athletes, almost double the amount for the same period last year. In the first eight months of this year, 18 anti-doping violations involving Canadian athletes were brought forward by the CCES – compared to 13 cases identified in all of 2014. Mandatory athlete education has resulted in more than 20,500 national team, university and college athletes accessing an enhanced e-learning module through the first eight months of 2015.
“Dick Pound’s commission has uncovered egregious breaches of the Code,” said Melia. “It’s the strongest call to action yet for a thorough clean up of international sport. Canada is doing its part to be code compliant in all sports; but if the system is to mean anything, the same must be true for every sport in every country.”
The CCES is an independent, national, not-for profit organization with a responsibility to administer the Canadian Anti-Doping Program. We recognize that true sport can make a great difference for individuals, communities and our country. We are committed to working collaboratively to activate a values-based and principle-driven sport system; protecting the integrity of sport from the negative forces of doping and other unethical threats; and advocating for sport that is fair, safe and open to everyone.