The new World Anti-Doping Code (WADA) coming into effect on January 1, 2021, is an international guiding document that will help protect athletes’ fundamental right to participate in doping-free sport, says Caribbean Regional Anti-Doping Organization (RADO) Executive Director Dr. Sasha Sutherland.
This new WADA code was unanimously approved at the 2019 World Conference on Doping in Sports. Sutherland told Barbados TODAY there was a unified effort with regard to the prevention of doping with a greater focus on education. She also said that among the objectives was to ensure there were quality anti-doping programmes in place for athletes.
“In the last two years, we have been doing country compliance questionnaires to basically evaluate where countries across the world are in terms of honouring that code.
“The harmonised efforts with regards to the prevention of doping, there is a new emphasis on education, like to raise awareness in the form of communication, instill value in athletes and athletes’ support personnel. It also focuses on deterrence which is basically to divert potential dopers through our rules and our sanctions across all stakeholders. Detection through effective testing and investigations, enforcement in the results management process which is basically where we adjudicate and sanction any athlete or athlete support personnel found to have committed an anti-doping rule violation,” Sutherland explained.
She added: “Of course with proportionality to human rights, at the end of the day, the objective is to ensure athletes have a fundamental right to participate in clean sports. To ensure the athlete’s health is taken into consideration and to ensure that fair play prevails.”
As part of the anti-doping community, this code, Sutherland said, would be used in conjunction with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) international convention against doping in sport.
Sutherland further explained that international sports federations, national sports federations and Olympic committees were signatories to the code. She said that governments could also be signatories and therefore the partnership was facilitated through governments being a state partner at international conventions against doping in sport.
Signatories have been encouraged by the Caribbean Regional Anti-Doping Organization Executive Director to take the appropriate steps to amend any policies, statutes, legislation or rules that would have been in line with the 2015 code, which was the last iteration of the world anti-doping code. And, also to ensure those rules, policies, statutes and legislation were in line with the 2021 code and its associated standards.
“So, with the 2021 code, the practical steps for code signatories, whether NOC (National Olympic Committees), sports federations or governments, is to ensure that there is a corporation of the 2021 code in their policies, their statues, rules, legislations. And by adopting the 2021 code, there is an automatic adaptation of the new international standards that also comes into force on January 1st, 2021.
“One of the other incentives for code signatories and for state parties would be to ensure that their anti-doping programming is based on the new regulations. For example, the international standard for testing and investigation; the result management process; the need to develop and implement effective intelligence and proportionate test distribution plans for testing athletes in and out of competition according to the international standard for testing and investigation.
“WADA will provide guidelines based on the 2021 code and international standard so that there are updated versions for countries. So, it is not like they have to go at it themselves, there will be guidelines provided by WADA and the Caribbean Regional Anti-Doping Organization that facilitate that knowledge transfer. It facilitates any support that may be needed in countries with education by communicating to athletes support personnel and national sports organisations. Just to ensure that countries take all the preliminary steps in 2020 to ensure the implementation of the code is a smooth one come 2021,” Sutherland said.
Sutherland described this as a fundamental year for member countries even in the midst of COVID-19. Providing that this pandemic passes, the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan and the Commonwealth Youth Games scheduled for Trinidad and Tobago are all scheduled for 2021.
She explained: “Our work has not stopped to the extent that we want to ensure athletes’ health is maintained. COVID-19 has affected testing across the world, however, in terms of policies, statutes, regulations because that code is coming into effect in 2021, we need to ensure that all RADO member countries are ready to move forward with the code.
“We want to ensure that our signatories have rules in place, quality anti-doping programmes in place. The Olympic Games have moved but there are still games that are going to happen in 2021. We have not heard anything to the contrary that the Commonwealth Youth Games 2021 in Trinidad and Tobago is not going to happen. Or that the Caribbean Games 2021 is not going to happen. So we want to ensure that when those games are going on, that they have adequate regulations and guidelines to ensure smooth events and to ensure that the anti-doping aspects of those games are well executed.”