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Community support plan to combat doping in sport
In the light of the results of the analysis of the causes of the proliferation of doping, the European Commission presents the actions that it has already undertaken in this field and the actions planned in response to the requests made by the other Community institutions and bodies concerned. In particular, the Commission envisages possibilities for mobilising appropriate Community instruments in the war against doping (research, education and training, youth, police and the judicial cooperation, public health) and for improving coordination of the existing legislative measures. It also establishes the broad lines for the possible participation of the EU in the World Anti-Doping Agency.
Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: Community support plan to combat doping in sport [COM(99) 643 final - Not published in the Official Journal].
The Commission has opted for a three-layer approach in the war on doping in sport:
- assemble the experts' opinions on the ethical, legal and scientific dimensions of doping. To this end the Commission has consulted the European Ethics Group and invited it to deliver an opinion;
- contribute to preparing the 1999 World Anti-Doping Conference and work together with the Olympic movement to create the World Anti-Doping Agency (this Agency was founded on 10 November 1999);
- mobilise Community instruments with a view to supplementing the actions already underway in the Member States and to vesting them with a Community dimension, taking account of, inter alia, the growing mobility of European sportspersons and the Community's powers in the field of doping.
Promoting ethics in sport, reinforcing the health protection of athletes
The Commission has committed itself to taking into account, in its future actions and deliberations, elements of the opinion of the European Group on Ethics (EGE). This group has recalled the ethical principles which must inspire all Community measures:
The rights of everyone, both sportspersons and others, to safety and health;
- the principle of integrity and transparency, for the sake of which the consistency of sporting competitions must be ensured and the image of sport in general preserved;
- the special attention which must be paid to the most vulnerable people and, in particular, children, who can be very involved in high-level sport.
On the basis of these ethical principles, the EEG has suggested a number of measures:
- the establishment of an effective health monitoring system for athletes, in particular a specialised medical, psychological and information service;
- the adoption of a directive on the protection of young athletes, in particular those who aspire to go professional;
- the adoption of specific provisions on the protection of athletes as workers exposed to certain occupational hazards;
- the encouragement of epidemiological research into the health of athletes;
- the organisation of conferences on the subject of doping and athletes' health, in collaboration with the sporting movement;
- raising the awareness of education professionals about the problems of sporting ethics;
- increased police and judicial cooperation;
- the incorporation of provisions relating to doping and its prohibition in athletes' contracts;
- the adoption of a common declaration equivalent to a code of conduct for sport at the end of a European conference on doping.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA): a new partnership?
Possible participation in the World Anti-Doping Agency constitutes the second strand of Community action.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which is based in Montreal, was founded on 10 November 1999 in Lausanne. Its aim is to promote and coordinate the fight against doping at international level, and it comprises, inter alia, representatives of the Olympics movement, public bodies, intergovernmental organisations and the private sector.
The EU and its Member States played an active part in the Agency's creation in 1999, as regards both policy and financing.
At the time there was considerable Community interest in having an involvement in the creation of the Agency, since several of the tasks assigned to the Agency relate to fields in which the Community has competence.
This Agency provides the framework for a new partnership between the Olympic movement and public authorities. Right from the outset, the European Union's position was to ensure respect for the principles of independence and transparency in the Agency's work. Representatives of the Member States, the Commission and the Council of Europe were unanimous during the preparations for the Agency that these principles must be respected, that the two parties must be represented equally and that major decisions must be taken by consensus.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) had for its part invited the European Community to participate in the creation of the Agency. The IOC hoped that this Agency, established on 10 November 1999, would be fully operational for the Sydney Olympics due to be held in September 2000.
At a meeting held on 2 November 1999, the IOC and the European Union agreed on the draft statutes of the Agency, with the addition of the following comments:
- It will be necessary to specify in the text the vital importance of the political and moral commitment of all the relevant parties to the Agency's activities;
- The Agency should be required to adopt and modify the list of banned substances, taking as its initial point of reference the IOC Medical Commission's list;
- The Agency should with be responsible for accrediting the testing laboratories and harmonising testing methods;
- The Agency should organise and coordinate the out-of-competition testing, in close cooperation with the international federations and the relevant public authorities;
- Government and sporting organisations should enjoy equal representation in the Foundation Board, which would remain free of any exterior influence, for example illegitimate commercial interests;
- Decisions of great importance should be taken on the basis of consensus.
On the basis of this agreement with the representatives of the European Union and of the Council of Europe, the IOC legally deposited the statutes of the Agency, with a view to setting up the Foundation Board.
During this transitional period, which ran until 1 January 2002, the Union had two representatives ad personam on the Foundation Board. The Commission participated as an observer.
Although the Council had envisaged a Community contribution to WADA's operating budget as from 2002, the Commission nevertheless announced in December 2001 that the EU would not participate either in the future functioning or financing of WADA as the legal and political conditions had not been met.
At the moment, the EU as a body merely supports the work of the Agency and might envisage active participation in the future.
It should be noted, however, that the 25 Member States of the EU each participate individually in the financing of the Agency.
Mobilising the Community instruments
The third Community action strand in the war against doping involves mobilising the Community instruments. Two types of action may be considered:
- Firstly, better coordination of regulatory measures.
- Secondly, mobilisation of Community programmes which can support positive anti-doping measures at European level.
If the fight against doping in sports is to be sustained and effective, it is essential to ensure genuine coordination and synergy between the actions taken by the various players in their respective spheres of responsibility: the sports community, Member States, international organisations, the EU, the World Anti-Doping Agency.
These actions will focus on the following:
- intensifying efforts to identify doping substances, detection methods, the consequences of doping for health and doping as a socio-economic phenomenon;
- mobilising education, vocational training and youth programmes in the service of information and training, awareness-raising and prevention programmes;
- making full use of police and judicial cooperation programmes;
- reinforcing drugs information;
- developing measures in the field of public health policy.
Doping and sport
The nature of doping is changing. Today, doping - barring exceptional cases - is no longer an isolated act on the part of an individual sportsperson, practised on the day of the competition. We are talking about systematic, organised methods at team level that exploit scientific advances for unethical ends. For example, increasing use is being made of substances which make it possible to mask doping products in the event of analysis.
The Commission is paying particular attention to the underlying causes of doping. One major cause of the spread of doping is the over-commercialisation of sport, in particular the recent explosion of television rights associated with large sponsoring contracts. This commercialisation and the economic and financial stakes involved have led to a proliferation of sports competitions and have curtailed athletes' recovery times, a factor which also shortens the professional's sporting life. Besides, there are the perverse effects of contracts between certain sports associations and their sponsors, with awards being granted on the basis of results obtained. The athlete's general environment, from the coach or doctor to the team leader and family circle, may put additional pressure on the athlete.
Young athletes constitute a particular problem, given the increasingly young age at which sports careers are starting.
The war on doping is a very good illustration of how Community action can contribute to reinforcing action at various levels, notably national level, and responding to the public's expectations, while respecting both the autonomy of the sports organisations and the subsidiarity principle.