Nowadays sports play a very important role in the global economy and society. Sports have been changed simultaneously with human development, absorbing discoveries in science and improvements in technology. The development in the technology gave a significant push for the evolution of equipment and methodologies of training, boosting athletic performance, and resulting in higher and higher speed, accuracy, and excellence during competitions.
Moreover, the progress in science created a new industry that produces special food, additives, and substances for athletes. Some of these substances are so strong that they are prohibited by the world sports community with the anti-doping practice. World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is one of the leading organizations that fight against doping, and its policy has many different aspects. The main aim of this agency is to ensure that athletes do not use forbidden drugs or doping to make their results better. To achieve these goals WADA uses many methods and instruments, which, however, have some contradictions with the principles of the Global Business Standards Codex (GDSC), abusing the rights of athletes, and neglecting the foundations of transparency, fairness, and dignity. The most important problems of the agency’s policy include non-compliance with international law, infringement of the athletes’ rights, and other minor deficiencies of the WADA’s policy.
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WADA’s Anti-Doping Policy
The international anti-doping policy began at the end of the twentieth century with the establishment of WADA, whose mission is “to promote and co-ordinate at international level the fight against doping in sport in all forms” (Houlihan 2004, p. 420).
According to Tamburrini (2006), there are many reasons why doping should be prohibitive, including the fact that it is harmful to athletes’ health. This is the main reason why most anti-doping organizations carry out their activities. Such an approach supports the dignity principle of the GBSC, which presupposes the protection of the “health, safety, privacy, and human rights of others” (Paine et. al 2005, p.5).
However, there are many concerns that anti-doping activities usually infringe athletes’ privacy rights, coercing them to provide personal information or blood samples. Different testing, initiated by WADA, usually causes discomfort and other inconveniences for both doped and “clear” athletes. Furthermore, the agency maintains the transparency principle of GBSC, affirming that the results of all tests are accurate and correct. However, there are many concerns that the agency can abuse its power in conducting its tests.
The second reason why doping is considered to be prohibited is the assertion that it creates different and unfair conditions for athletes. Athletes, who are reluctant to use doping, do not have a fair chance when competing against doped athletes. In this way, WADA supports the fairness principle of GBSC, which requires “free and fair competition” (Paine et. al 2005, p.6). However, such unfairness may be also referred to as different conditions of training, quality of equipment, and qualification of trainers. It is simply impossible to achieve perfect competition in sport, as athletes in different countries have to deal with different financing and culture of the sport. However, Hemphill (2009, p.316) suggested a perfect way to overcome this problem, – “to either enforce wide-ranging prohibitions or to implement a global resource (facilities, equipment, scientific training and rehabilitation, specialist coaching) redistribution scheme to produce a level playing field”.
Finally, opponents of doping claim that it “runs counter” to the “nature of the spirit’ of the sport”, which has to be without artificial products (Tamburrini 2006, p. 200). According to (Hempfill 2009, p. 313), “drugs introduce artificial, foreign substances into the body to help produce training or performance enhancement that could not be achieved otherwise”. However, many doping proponents claim, that it only helps athletes to perform better, leaving all responsibilities about results on the athletes.
According to Park (2005, p. 176), the primary WADA’s aims are “to protect athletes’ fundamental right to join in the doping-free sport, promote fairness and equity for all competing athletes worldwide, and maintain their health”. To achieve these goals the agency mainly uses two destinations of activities. First, it increases the chances of catching athletes who dope, providing new methods of testing and monitoring. Second, it works with standardization and harmonization of the anti-doping regulations and sanctions for doping intake in different countries.
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To be more specific, WADA uses different programs, which support two aspects of the agency’s policy.
- First, it conducts unannounced, out-of-competition testing among elite athletes. This testing allows anti-doping authorities to test athletes anywhere and anytime without prior notice, increasing the chances to catch doped ones. Furthermore, it funds scientific research to develop new detection methods to increase testing efficiency.
- Second, the agency develops the World Anti-Doping Code (WADC), the fundamental document that contains all rights, obligations, and procedures that are used by the agency. This is a very powerful document because athletes need not sign any documents or give their approval to be bound by the WADC, as they become bound automatically. According to it, every athlete must ensure that no prohibited substances enter their body, and if so, they will be responsible for doping intake. However, according to Houlihan (2004, p. 420), WADA and other sports or anti-doping organizations are vividly criticized, because “sports policy is generally made for, or on behalf of, athletes, rarely in consulting with athletes, and rarely in partnership with athletes”. This statement underlines possible threats of omitting both fairness and transparency principles of GBSC, as there is a significant imbalance between a powerful international agency and a single athlete.
- Third, WADA manages the Athlete’s Passport program, which is a special project aimed to create a direct line of communication between single athletes and the agency (Park 2005, p. 179). In addition to this, WADA usually provides anti-doping education to athletes, giving them full information about doping, its essence, influence, and consequences.
- Fourth, WADA facilitates international and national sports federations to ensure the establishment of a “registered testing pool of elite athletes and carry out in-competition and out-of-competition testing” (Hanstad, Skille, and Loland 2010, p. 419). Though these requirements are mandatory, the progress of their implementation, as well as the progress of harmonization of the anti-doping policy, has many problems. Countries differ in their systems of monitoring athletes and penalizing the doped ones. This can be because of the lack of financial support needed for the implementation process. Also, national sports federations must create systems and procedures to obtain whereabouts information about the athletes to prevent doping intakes. Whereabouts information includes a few points, including the name, home address, phone number, training times, travel plans, and competition schedule. It is obvious, that such requirements involve direct interventions into the private and confidential information about athletes.
WADA is a very powerful agency that acts all over the world. It has a very wide range of activities, which aim to stop doping intakes and ensure a competitive environment for athletes.
However, the agency should act according to international law, namely according to the principles of the right to personal privacy, the right to work, competition-oriented rights, and others. Some numerous disputes and controversies raise the question of whether WADA follows these principles. Furthermore, it omits not only the principles of international law, but also the principles of dignity, fairness, and transparency of the GBSC.
WADC misses some provisions that regulate relations between athletes and the agency. Such deficiency is not admissible in the modern sport environment, which develops very rapidly nowadays. Consequently, WADC should be improved in the future to increase the efficiency of the anti-doping policy and to conform to the principles of both GBSC and international law.