As an association that focuses on growing athletes’ rights, a blanket ban on any NOC for corruption of any type is difficult to support. However, we also believe in the rules that govern our profession as well as the Olympic sport. Those rules hold athletes to the highest standard possible through a system of rigorous testing and compliance with a code. For athletes to fully comply with these anti-doping programs endorsed by the IOC and all its member federations, all athletes are supposed to subject themselves to the same invasions of privacy that you would expect a parolee to experience 365 days per year.
Logic would suggest that the NOCs, IFs, and NFs that govern the Olympic sports would be held to a higher standard than the athletes. Yet this is clearly not the case. Completely separate from the systemic corruption in Russia and the IAAF, there are known violations of the anti-doping code occuring globally every year for multiple years. They go by the name of non-compliant countries. Often these countries lack the organization or the funding to implement an anti-doping policy that is compliant with WADA code. This is completely at odds with the zero-tolerance policy that drives WADA and suggests that the IOC nor WADA are as resolute in their pursuit of clean sport as they publicly profess.
If the code is impossible to uniformly implement, then you have three options:
- Enforce the code rigorously, no longer allowing for non-compliant countries to compete.
- Change the code to a standard that is a possible to achieve globally.
- Provide the additional funding, oversight and transparency necessary to implement the code universally.
President Bach has stated in defense of the decision to allow Russia to compete in the Olympic Games:
“Engagement, not isolation, is the key, to build a functioning and more robust world-anti doping system. If we all contribute in this spirit then this painful situation can become a moment of catharsis in the fight against doping…”
Consistency plus a willingness to reach across the aisle engaging athletes in the deliberation as equals will go much further than the current status quo. Together, we can foster a more sustainable, more comprehensive approach to clean sport that holds all parties to a standard that will make us all proud.