I think what’s interesting is this is probably an area which has been addressed relatively well since 2017. I’m not saying there isn’t more work to do. There absolutely is. I’m a big proponent of that. What more can we do? How else can we attack this problem?
In 2017, we were threatened with elimination from the Olympic games because of our widespread doping problem. What happened was, and you have to give credit where credit is due, Dr. Tamas Aján appointed what became the Clean Sport Commission headed by Richard Young. Richard Young was the co-author of the WADA code.
Much like Richard McLaren, part of that agreement was the report of the Clean Sport Commission, was free from interference and literally, you can’t even change the letter head. It’s got to be on white paper that Richard provided.
That provides a number of recommendations. Perhaps most relevant of which was the outsourcing of the outdoor competition and in-competition testing arrangements to the International Testing Agency, which is actually set up by the IOC, and thereby a gentleman named Benjamin Cohen, who was previously with WADA.
That has occurred and was completed in 2019, the full handover, so they look after results management. Some of the issues that were talked about are about potential manipulation of results management.
I can’t say impossible. Of course, there may be issues at the ITA. That could be true of any organization. I’m not alleging anything about the ITA, but I will say much less likely because now there is yet another association and an independent one involved in that process.
They also look after the selection of the outdoor competition testing, and the selection of in-competition testing, and the appointment of those known-as.
What happens is testing order is given by the Results Authority or Testing Authority, which is now the ITA on behalf of the IWF to a testing agency, which might be USODA, HUNADO, it might be UKAD, or whomever, and they go and test that individual.
It doesn’t need to be the country necessarily where they’re testing because the order comes from the ITA, but that’s the WADA, ITA, USODA, UKAD, etc. and how that works. That’s a critical step that gives a lot more trust to the process for everybody.
The IWF recently outsourced, appointing all of the panels, the Anti-Doping Commission of the IWF, as well as the Independent Member Federations Sanctioning Panel, which perhaps most famously has dealt with the Thailand case and the Egypt case in recent years. All of those appointments will now be made by the ITA, not by the IWF.
All of that builds trust, builds independence into the anti-doping system. One thing that the IWF has worked on recently is making sure that the ITA is educated on weightlifting because they look after, much like you saw what it does, a lot of different Olympic sports.
The downside of that is theoretically why the International Federation is good at looking after or was appropriate to look after its own Doping Control Program is because they know the sport. They know why a weightlifter might dope. They know when a weightlifter might dope, and they understand those risks.
One of the things that the ITA does need support and education on, especially as their first three, four, or five years is exactly that. How does a weightlifter effectively engage in doping? When does a weightlifter engage in doping? In which countries? And why?
What’s the incentive behind that doping? That they may engage in and therefore use the pool of money that we have out there for testing, which is a very significant portion of the IWF budget to test effectively. They’re also in charge of education and they’ve done a pretty good job of that during coronavirus.
It’s a tough time to talk about doping control because doping control is slowed around the world due to coronavirus and that has, not just for weightlifting with every school, but testing. [inaudible 41:32] backwards, education is still there.
A lot of people aren’t training so that lessens the risk a little bit, but it’s clear that the ITA together with other IWF partners around the world, must aggressively test and aggressively get back into the swing of a doping control after we’ve completed. As soon as it’s relatively possible to leave the house and go and test those people I think is reasonable.
A lot of that’s being dealt with, but at the same time, that is not an area the IWF can say, “Look, we solved that problem. We’ve got other allegations coming up that we need to solve.” Yes, that’s true, but actually doping is still our biggest core issue that we need to look at in our sport. That’s the one that I think, from what I understand, athletes most care about.
Is when I stepped onto the field of play, when I step onto the platform, do I have a fair shot against him or her that I’m competing against? I think that’s where I hear from athletes, certainly American athletes. Is where they care about the most. I think that’s not just true of Americans. That’s true worldwide.
One of the other things, culturally, that Rich mentioned, that I think is worth talking about is, as you see less countries engaging in that, there’ll be less of a sense of, “Well, we have to do it because they’re doing it.” That is an issue right now. That’s in many research studies, not just in weightlifting, but in other sports.
That’s been shown to be a clear motivator for doping is, “Well, if I don’t, the other six or seven guys that I’m up against or girls I’m up against are engaging in that, and therefore I have to if I wish to catch up.” I think being part of the issue that we’ve had is the countries and individuals having looked at that and said, “Well, wait a minute, we can either finish 15th or we can do the same as what they do.”
If you think about it from a very logical standpoint, perhaps you can understand some of that thinking. There are cultural issues. Education is critical, but we have to be aggressive on education.
We have to be educated on what’s happening now with doping control, because that mitigates some of those issues that we talked about, “Well, if they’re doing it, I can do it.” We have to continue to go, “All right, what more can we do? Can we do this cheaper and better?” Which means we can test more. “Is there ways out there we can improve the way that we identify people to test?”
All of those things come together for a good doping control program. I will say, I do believe that’s an area of the IWF has significantly improved 2017 until now.