Solheim address European Sport Ministers

- We need to ensure separation of powers in sport and in anti-doping.

Solheim address european sport ministers3
Anders Solheim, Chair of the Monitoring Group, Anti-Doping Convention, and CEO of Anti-Doping Norway. Foto: Stian Schløsser Møller

"The fight against doping and match-fixing" is the topic for tuesdays biennial Conference of Ministers Responsible for Sport in Budapest. Representatives from the IOC, WADA and the sports movement will also be present at event, which has been organised by the Council of Europe.

Chair of the Monitoring Group, Anti-Doping Convention, and CEO of Anti-Doping Norway, Anders Solheim, was one of the speakers at Tuesdays conference.

Other speakers: Sir Craig Reedie, WADA president, Linda Hofstad Helleland, vice president of WADA and Minister of Culture, Mario Pescante, vice president of the IOC, Sir Philip Craven, president of IPC and Thorbjørn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe.

Read Anders Solheim's speech here:

Dear Ministers, distinguished guests, friends of sport.
As Chair of the Monitoring Group, Anti-Doping Convention, I thank you for the opportunity to speak at this conference.

In the preamble of the Convention from 1989 it is clearly stated that the public authorities and the sports organizations have complementary responsibilities to combat doping in sport. This preamble is still valid for our work, although there have been important developments since 1989.

WADA has been established and the anti-doping institutional landscape has shifted internationally and in a number of the European countries. Now, the experience and knowledge from our past has to be used to shape the future of anti-doping – in WADA and in our countries.

What is good governance in anti-doping and what are the consequences of Council of Europe’s core values in this sector? My message is clear. We need to ensure separation of powers in sport and in anti-doping. To achieve that goal, we have to consider how we structure our work and divide responsibilities. We can eliminate conflict of interest and makes governance structure more transparent and accountable.

Legislative bodies - Should be a representative body with the authority to make decisions in relation to the sports regulations. Normally it is dealt with by sports confederations, national federations and by public authorities.

Executive bodies in sports are often the Board of a sports federation, nationally or internationally. In anti-doping, we have seen that these bodies can suffer from structural conflict of interest when it comes to detecting doping at high sporting level.

Experience shows that we need an independent and impartial body to conduct testing, and to investigate and prosecute rule violations. In other parts of our societies independent bodies deal with these activities. This is a model to follow in sport as well.

Judicial bodies must be impartial and independent and have the authority to make final decisions. It is stated in the Convention that the reporting and disciplinary bodies should be distinct from each other. This is a necessity, but not obvious in the world of sports.

Ensuring separation of power is the core business for what we must achieve – across sports and across borders.

We must focus on the Structure of the National Anti-Doping Work

National authorities are in the forefront of the fight against doping. The Anti-Doping Convention has been ratified by 52 countries, but we mustn´t be complacent. Each country should ensure an operationally independent national anti-doping agency, with its own independent board and administration with no conflict of interest.

Too many NADOs have strong ties to its government or sport organization. Each NADO should have a clear mandate at least including collecting intelligence, investigating possible rule vaiolation, testing athletes and conduct result management including to the power to prosecute cases in front of a hearing panel. Both the World Anti-Doping Code and the Convention require a comprehensive anti-doping program.

It goes without saying that this work requires appropriate funding. We realize it is discrepancies at national level. Therefore, the Monitoring Group is currently preparing a common approach by drafting a recommendation on independence of NADOs.

Monitoring Compliance is important

A crucial role for the Monitoring Group is to monitor compliance of the anti-doping convention. Monitoring visits have taken place in countries as Belarus, Bulgaria, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Ukraine, UK since 2013. The Monitoring Group has adopted a number of recommendations on how to improve the domestic anti-doping programs. From my own country, Norway, the first evaluation visit was in 1998 and facilitated the establishment of the national anti-doping agency.

The visits must be followed-up in order to improve our work. We in Europe have a platform and structure in place for this. The CoE offers assistance to member states in relation to compliance and monitoring. For the future, we need to strengthen these tools. In Europe, and worldwide, a commitment and the will of all those involved will be decisive if we are really to achieve results.

As a governmental convention, we can work for government compliance. However, the operational activities are normally delegated to the anti-doping organizations. The ADO has to be in compliance with the World Anti-Doping Code. For the Monitoring Group, it has been a strategy to work for formalized cooperation with WADA in order to promote synergies and avoid duplication. Later at the conference a MoU will be signed between the CoE and WADA.

We need new recommendations for the future

Another key role for the Monitoring Group is to interpret the Convention and formulate recommendations. A recommendation on information sharing between public authorities and NADOs has been adopted. This includes the training of Custom bodies and law enforcement authorities to identify prohibited substances and share information concerning production, sale and distribution of doping.

We are in the process of adopting a recommendation on ensuring the independence of hearing panels and promoting fair trial in anti-doping cases. We need to establish an independent, impartial and centralized panel, apart from the national sport federations, in charge of all hearings. We have to ensure that international legal standards are fully respected and that athletes are offered adequate protection of their fundamental rights.

Adopting a recommendation is not the final stage. It is the starting point. Now, we must focus on the implementation. This should also be a priority for the Monitoring Group.

Doping is also a public health issue

The Parliamentary Assembly of the CoE (Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media) developed a document called “Rethinking the anti-doping strategy”. On behalf of the Monitoring Group, I will use the opportunity to thank the Committee for its efforts and commitment to fighting doping. The focus on doping in amateur sports and among young people, its major public health risks and enrichment of criminal groups is a dimension of our work which will require our attention in the future. I will call on all of you to also recognize doping as a public health issue.

Are we prepared for the future?

Europe has by examples been leading in the anti-doping work for many years and we are still in the front line through our work in the Monitoring Group and CAHAMA. Leading requires thinking forward and taking initiatives. Now, we should look at to what extent the convention may require updating.
Is our current Convention sufficient to ensure an effective anti-doping program for the future? Are we safeguarding the principles of separation of power and good governance in the anti-doping fight?

Now is the time when we have a momentum to make a difference – to strengthen our work for the clean athletes, to build our program on democracy, human rights and rule of law. It has been a difficult period. We are at a crossroads.

Now we have to show leadership again and we are willing to do so!