"We believe that national federations deserve more trust!"
Vitaly Smirnov’s speech at the Presidential Council for the Development of Physical Culture and Sport.
Now the time has come for important reforms, which we hope will help make the anti-doping effort in our country more effective
MOSCOW, 25 May. IPADC Press Service presents full transcript of Vitaly Smirnov's speech at the at the Presidential Council for the Development
of Physical Culture and Sport.
Dear Vladimir Vladimirovich!
Dear members of the Council!
Before proceeding to the key topic of my speech, let me inform you the following:
On May 18, a Foundation Board Meeting of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in Montreal made a unanimous decision to allow the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) to resume its operations. This decision will enter into force after we meet certain conditions. The possibility of these decisions being made has already been approved.
WADA regards the resumption of RUSADA’s operations as a major step toward implementing the road map for declaring [Russia] fully compliant and is willing to provide assistance in all areas of further activities. In particular, this week, WADA officials will come to Moscow to assist in drafting an expanded programme.
One of the topics discussed at the WADA Foundation Board Meeting was the second part of the McLaren report. According to WADA Director General Olivier Niggli, this document does not always provide sufficient evidence. We also said previously that the McLaren report lacks legal substantiation and scope. Representatives of the IOC and international federations also acknowledge this. At the same time, it is important to note that the report has encouraged us to listen to the commission’s findings, the results of its work. The fact that many Russian athletes were disqualified recently shows that the system that was in place at the time was ineffective in preventing and combatting the use of doping. Preventive mechanisms failed to work and the most unpleasant thing is that “clean” athletes, who have never broken any rules in their life, have suffered as a result.
Now the time has come for important reforms, which we hope will help make the anti-doping effort in our country more effective. In the past several months, some crucial decisions have been made: A law criminalising coercion of athletes into using performance-enhancing drugs was adopted, the Ministry of Sport withdrew from the RUSADA Foundation Board, RUSADA is now financed directly from the federal budget and its financing has been significantly increased, and the laboratory has been placed under the supervision of Moscow State University. As a matter of fact, this provision of the national anti-doping plan, which will be presented to you today, has already been implemented.
Members of the Independent Commission and leading Russian experts in sports medicine, law, education and science were involved in the work on the national plan. Representatives of the IOC, WADA and a number of international federations were cooperating with us. Using this opportunity, I would like to thank all those who contributed to the elaboration of the national plan and the work of the commission in general.
I consider it important to emphasise the attention that is devoted to anti-doping issues at all levels of government. We hope that this document will make it possible not only to restore the trust of the international sports community but will also eradicate the causes and conditions that encourage doping in sports.
The plan contains many innovative proposals, including those at world level. We hope that its implementation will substantially reduce the number of violations of anti-doping rules in this country and ultimately create a zero-tolerance attitude to doping.
Allow me to describe in detail some provisions of the national plan. As a rule, there are several factors that encourage violations of anti-doping rules. Money and career always play a major role in this respect. In this context, the plan provides for measures to monitor unfair beneficiaries in sports. Regulatory acts will have mechanisms for the recovery of the income and property of disqualified athletes and coaches that they received as awards. It will not matter how many years have passed. All benefits received from government or non-government agencies will have to be returned.
The same principle will be suggested as regards disqualified athletes if they seek to hold government or non-government positions in the field of physical fitness and sports. A person that was disqualified in the past for violating rules will be restricted or barred for life from holding such positions. Doping violations should threaten not only athletic careers but also subsequent careers.
It is strange to see how some Russian media all but glorify people who were disqualified for doping, and how these people hold government positions, appear as experts on television and in the press, and train children. We should put an end to this if we really want to create effective anti-doping propaganda.
Sports federations play a crucial role in preventing doping. The plan envisages that in case of repeated violations of anti-doping rules, a corresponding federation may be promptly stripped of state accreditation. However, [we] would like these issues to be addressed by public organisations, say, the Olympic Committee, in keeping with current international practice. I believe that will help increase the responsibility of federation heads for their anti-doping efforts.
One of the most controversial issues in sports today is the use of banned substances within the framework of so-called therapeutic use exemptions. Unfortunately, recently, we have observed world sports turn from an honest rivalry into a competition between very sick people with doctor’s certificates, as well as into a fierce struggle between pharmaceutical companies. Today, it is clear that this system needs a serious and comprehensive overhaul. The national plan envisions making proposals to reform the system of issuing therapeutic use exemptions and sending these proposals to appropriate international organisations. In particular, it is essential to ensure a universal approach toward medical examination and oversight of athletes’ health regardless of their nationality or geographical location.
At the same time we need to conduct an awareness campaign among Russian sports doctors and athletes to help them better understand the mechanisms of issuing these exemptions and using them if necessary. Figures show that these mechanisms are not used in our country. In 2015, Russian athletes received roughly two dozen such exemptions, while in other countries such exemptions are issued by the hundreds.
Another innovation for the international community will be our proposal on the mandatory testing of athletes who are being included on a national team for the first time. This is a truly revolutionary approach, which has not been used anywhere yet. This system will give us full confidence that our reservists, who join the main national teams, are ‘clean’.
In this context, there is a special need to define the legal principles of the institution of so-called informers. We realise that this is a very delicate matter, but there is no getting away from a discussion on the issue. This is a demand of the times and, importantly, one of the conditions we have to meet to restore our international status. Naturally, the possibility of abuses, the deliberate provision of false information must be precluded.
The plan has a special provision aimed at restoring the Paralympic Committee within the international community. Regrettably, literally yesterday we learned that the International Paralympic Committee has upheld the suspension of the Russian Paralympic Committee. The final decision on the participation of our Paralympic athletes in the Games in Korea will be only made in September. And this is taking place against the background of WADA’s positive remarks on progress in the activities of our Paralympic Committee.
We all remember the outrageous decision to ban the Russian Paralympic team from the Rio Games and must do all we can to prevent it from happening again.
The national anti-doping plan includes a whole range of measures from regulatory and organisational support to cooperation with international agencies. There are sections devoted to science, educational and information programmes. Obviously, to implement the plan we will have to make certain amendments to current legislation. We hope our MPs will help on this issue. At one time, the national plan was submitted to the relevant federal executive bodies for remarks and proposals. After it was approved at the meeting of our commission with a view to fulfilling the President’s instructions, the Government of the Russian Federation elaborated a package of measures on its implementation. We suggest that while approving the package we should put the Independent Commission in charge of public oversight of its implementation.
While developing the National plan, we could not ignore the current sports management system in our country.
Both the IOC, and the WADA put great significance on national sports federations in their fight against doping. At the same time, we see that some of our federations lost their standing in the management system and do not have any proper authorities.
It is a fact that the global sports movement is regulated and governed by public organizations such as the International Olympic Committee and international federations. These organizations prefer to deal with affiliated structures, i.e. National Olympic committees and federations respectively, in the course of their interacting with the countries. The mechanism of such interaction is set forth in respective charters and articles of associations. In our country, the training functions in the elite sport are often transferred to the government authority.
The situation in Russia where one authority is responsible for the development of mass and professional sport, training for the Olympic Games as well as the supervision and monitoring in the sport, has led to distorting priorities. Sometimes the Ministry substitutes for the Olympic committee and federations.
We believe that national federations deserve more trust! After all, all the professionals in this or that sport work there. They are closer to the athletes, to teams. Why not to provide the federations with more autonomy, for example, in approving chief coaches and other specialists working with national teams? We have lots of examples when federations work independently and show excellent results for decades! I am speaking about the fencing, figure skating, modern rhythmic gymnastics, synchronized swimming, wrestling, shooting, modern pentathlon, ice hockey and others.
Right now, I would abstain from discussing advantages and disadvantages of various changes in the sport management system. It is up to the group of experts and only after a thorough analysis is carried out. In this respect, I would consider it expedient to instruct the Sports Council to prepare proposals on this issue.
Sport in Russia and the world in general is undergoing difficult times and we are faced with new challenges. The fate of the future generations of athletes will largely depend on the decisions we make. Our country has an opportunity to emerge from this situation as the world leader, but to achieve this we must act rather than wait, keep ahead of others. We are in a position to establish the world’s most advanced anti-doping system. It is important to note that we have the right to hope that other countries will adopt a similar approach to anti-doping practices. I am convinced that the national anti-doping plan and its implementation will allow Russia to move in the right direction.
25 Май 2017