Thu, Nov 30, 2017 - Page 16 News List

Athletes have duty to report drug use offenses: McLaren

Reuters, EINDHOVEN, Netherlands

The author of the independent World Anti-Doping Agency report that uncovered evidence of institutionalized doping in Russian sport said on Tuesday that athletes should be duty-bound to report cases where they know of drug use by others.

Canadian law professor Richard McLaren said the system could be modeled on rules governing match-fixing, where failing to report knowledge of a case in many sports is an offense.

However, McLaren, speaking at the Play the Game sports conference, said sports federations would also have to build up trust with the athletes for it to work.

“Athletes need to speak up, they are on the front line and I think it’s time we considered putting a duty [on them] to report corrupt activity,” McLaren said. “We can only do that if everyone can be confident that it can be done in confidence.”

“If you are going to encourage people to come forward and speak up, we must have strict and rigorous confidentiality. That trust must be established. They [athletes] must be convinced that they can be and will be protected,” he added.

Speaking to reporters afterward, McLaren said the duty could be included in “the athletes’ contract with their sport.”

“In match-fixing, it’s a requirement and something similar could be done with respect to doping issues,” he said.

However, he conceded that, in match-fixing, athletes often turned a blind eye to wrongdoing by colleagues, despite facing bans for doing so.

“I know very well the culture to keep it in the locker room,” McLaren said. “That would be a problem, but if you conduct better education and you build trust relationships with the sport, it can work.”

“It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s better than what we have now,” he added.

Having obtained the information, sports federations then have a duty to conduct a proper investigation — something that often does not happen, McLaren said.

“The information flows into these organizations, disappears and then is never acted on,” he said.

McLaren’s report published last year found that more than 1,000 Russian competitors in more than 30 sports were involved in a conspiracy to conceal positive drug tests over a period of five years.

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