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State-Sponsored Doping and Violation of WADA Code

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In December 2014, World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) setup an Independent Commission to investigate the legitimacy of claims made by H. Seppelt’s documentary ‘The secrets of doping: How Russia makes its winners? The whistleblower, Yuliya Stepanova along with her husband appeared in the documentary and revealed details of massive state-sponsored doping fraud. This entire scheme was all about manipulating positive drug tests.

According to Article 6 of WADA Code, 2015 dope tests are done in WADA-accredited laboratories only in presence of an independent observer from WADA. The Russians, however, would do their work overnight when no one was watching. Leading to this, WADA called for an international ban of Russia’s track and field team. The Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) upheld the ban by IAAF on Russia’s track and field team from competing at the Rio Olympics. Though WADA recommended a blanket ban on Russia but it was dependent on International Olympics Committee as it was not a party in the arbitration proceedings. Therefore, CAS had no jurisdiction to determine whether IOC is entitled to accept or refuse the nomination by ROC of Russian track and field athletes to compete at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. The IOC decided against the blanket ban on entire Russian team and said that it would prefer to let individual federations the opportunity to ban Russian competitors from their sports.

Regardless of continuous efforts by several international sporting organizations to control doping, State-sponsored doping is too big a problem to be combated under prevailing international norms. There has been a long history of countries violating anti-doping code such as China, former East-Germany and Russia. State-sponsored doping not only violates an athlete’s right to play but also their right to human-dignity and right to health. Despite the fact that WADA Code was first adopted in 2005, almost 11 years since its inception, it has failed to address the issue of state-sponsored doping and the sanctions attached to it. Similarly, the Olympic Charter has also neglected the issue of state-sponsored doping. Article 11 of the WADA code mentions consequences to teams, if tested positive but it also, nowhere talks about State’s role in doping. State sponsored doping not only abuses the loosely drafted WADA code but also psychologically debase athletes as due to enhanced performance it makes them believe that they are incapable of accomplishing excellence through their natural skills. A sports governing body such as IAAF etc. can only impose sports-specific sanctions against the sportsperson and cannot punish those who are not directly involved in the sports which in this case scenario is an entire State. Lack of sanctions against State involves blatant misuse of power and manipulation of results. The international community must take an unprecedented step to curb state sponsored doping. Sports has constantly assumed a notable role in advancing human rights and furthermore in light of the fact that doping is fundamentally contrary to the spirit of sports.

Documentary available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iu9B-ty9JCY.

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