OATH members felt that the IOC-created reform process would not hear their voices, that they would again be marginalized and excluded. That is the genesis of The OATH Report. The Report was written in consultation with athletes and experts. It is a call to all those who believe in the Olympic Movement, those who watch the games and encourage their children to strive for excellence, those who drive their kids to swimming practice at 6am every morning. It is a call to those who profit from the Games, to sponsors and the media, to care for their investment. It is a call to governments that invest public funds in sport, the Games and bids for Games and to those who support the Movement through favorable tax arrangements. The Report is a call to partners to help the Olympic Movement be the best it can be. Together we want to make the world a better place through sport.
Outlined below are OATH’s specific recommendations with respect to an anti-doping agency in which the IOC is one of many stakeholders in a new, independent, accountable, transparent, international, anti-doping agency:
1. The agency be rooted in sport ethics and values and will be driven by athlete agreement. Athletes, scientists, medical and ethical experts must be involved in drafting the anti-doping Code and developing the structure of the new agency. Athletes must formally approve the anti-doping code.
2. Athletes be represented at all levels of the agency.
3. The agency be independent and accountable. The agency must have an independent governing council, scientific, medical, ethical, educational, legal and athletes’ commissions.
4. The agency conduct doping control measures to the highest international, independent standards. The Agency adopt the International Anti-Doping Arrangement, International Standard for Doping Control International Organization for Standardization, Publicly Available Specification.
5. The agency conduct all doping control activities with due respect for the athlete, personal rights and the fairness of due process.
6. The agency conduct on-going, independent, legal and ethical reviews of its operations and make the results publicly available.
7. The agency lead in the development of educational and consensus-building programs to pursue ethics and integrity in sport.
8. The agency conduct and sponsor doping and doping detection research to the highest standards of medical and research ethics. In particular, research should not be conducted without the express, written, informed and non-coerced consent of the athletes whose bodies or samples are being studied.
The doping crises and corruption crises are symptomatic of the overall need to clean up the IOC by creating an organization which is more accountable, transparent, inclusive and democratic.
Now, lets consider the clean up of the IOC. The issues confronting the IOC are not new to the Senate. Similar issues arose in the United States in the early 1970s, which ultimately led to the adoption of the Amateur Sports Act of 1978. Thank you, Senator Stevens. The USOC suffered from the same problems; an unelected, unaccountable body of white males without a constituency were not acting in the best interest of the USOC or the athletes. Sweeping reforms have given the United States a more democratic and representational organization. As a result of these dramatic reforms, we have a much stronger and healthier United States Olympic Team.
OATH believes the new IOC should be ethics and values-based and athlete-centered, accountable as the Olympic Movement is a public trust and it stewards that movement on behalf of its stakeholders; democratic so as to make room for democratically elected members drawn from key stakeholder constituencies; and transparent so that it opens its books and its decision-making to public scrutiny and criticism.
The Olympic Games are not just a multi-sport world championships. Olympism is a set of values embodied in the Olympic Movement, which is a movement for social change. When asked, the world public identifies Olympic values of excellence, dedication, fair play and international peace as key ingredients of the Olympic Games.
Olympic rings connote a higher set of ethics and values and this is what the public support is based on. If the Olympic Movement loses support, if the public comes to see Olympic values mocked by the practices of the IOC, then the sponsorship value of the Olympic Games will diminish. Preservation of Olympic ideals is therefore not just the right thing to do, but it is also the best way of preserving the success of the Games.
The IOC stands in a management role to the Olympic Games and the Olympic rings, but the IOC is much more; they are stewards of the Olympic Movement. Currently, the IOC members are unelected and unaccountable * ambassadors of the IOC to their home countries rather than representatives of constituencies. Of the one hundred and five current members, all but eleven are men, and they hold office until they are eighty years old. They answer to no one.
The purpose of the Olympic Movement and the Olympic Games is to further “sport development,” and to use sport to effect both personal and cultural change. That is Olympism. Formal mechanisms for openness and scrutiny and the development of several key constituencies, so that they can play a role in decision-making, are required.
Although there is an Athletes’ Commission it needs to be strengthened to legitimately have the voices of athletes represented.
Working members of the IOC Athletes’ Commission are still too few in number and they exercise relatively little direct power within the organization. The IOC Athletes’ Commission needs to be strengthened by becoming an independent, even more democratically-based, grass-roots association of athletes.
The IOC athlete members and the athletes that sit on other committees and commissions should be the visible tip of an organization that has an on-going and close connection with athletes around the world. There should also be Paralympic athlete representation on the IOC Athletes’ Commission.
Given the size of the full IOC session and the complexity of the IOC, much of the decision-making necessarily falls to a smaller group, the IOC Executive Board. Currently no athletes from the Athletes’ Commission sit on the IOC Executive Board. It is essential that athletes be formally represented on the Executive Board, one recent athlete (competed within the last eight years) and one lifetime athlete (or World Olympian).
Outlined below are some other points to consider about the IOC’s Athletes’ Commission:
1. The Chairman (Peter Tallberg) and Vice-Chairman (HSH Prince Albert of Monaco) are appointed members of the Athletes’ Commission and are the only two members who sit in the full IOC session.
2. The “elections” are not fully democratic in that there are varying methods by which NOCs put forward candidates.
3. The athletes who are elected are still in competition and in many instances are unable to fully represent their peers because of their own training and competition schedule.
4. The athletes who are now outside the 8 year rule for being “active” have no voice to represent them and their continuing commitment to the Movement.
5. It is not an independent voice, it reports to the IOC President. It does not ask the IOC to be accountable to wider constituencies.
6. Comprises of 19 members of which 10 members have been elected some way or another in a modified democratic approach.
The World Olympians’ Association, which represents the Olympic athlete alumni, needs to be far more active than it has been since its creation and its mission needs to be much more dynamic than social. It should also be the source of a great deal of practical wisdom. Olympians should be encouraged and provided the tools with which to be ambassadors of Olympism. The Olympians’ Association needs to be developed into an independent and democratically-structured organization.
This centrality of the athlete means that sport administrators and leaders need to think from the point-of-view of the athlete and evaluate proposals on the basis of how well they promote the growth of athletes as athletes and as people. Sport systems must be designed to promote growth and to ensure fairness, accountability and the protection of athletes’ rights.
The Olympic Movement requires a culture of accountability: accountability to athletes, to governments, to NOCs, to IFs, to sponsors, to the press and to the public at large.
The culture of accountability requires openness. The Olympic Movement is a public trust and belongs to the people of the world. We, the people, are its owners. As stakeholders in this social movement, people can know their interests are being handled well only if they can scrutinize the activities of its stewards. As guardians of the Olympic Movement, the IOC must be answerable to their public. The IOC is accountable, when its decisions are demonstrably in the best interests of the Olympic Movement.
If all of this were the private property of a private club perhaps this would not matter. But the Olympic Games and the Olympic Movement are not the private preserve of a set of unelected, unaccountable officials presiding in Lausanne. The Olympic Games and the Olympic Movement were created for the world as a beacon of hope and peace and excellence. The founder of the Games and the Movement, Pierre de Coubertin believed that sport could be a force for good, that it could serve in the cause of peace and in the moral and physical development of youth. It is that vision that gives the Games and the Movement its power. The Olympic Games and the Olympic Movement are a public trust and its guardians are the IOC.
But they have lost their way. The response to IOC corruption comes too little and too late. There have been reports of unethical practices by IOC members dating back to the early nineties. But nothing was done. Finally, when the facts began to emerge about Salt Lake City the IOC created an ethics panel and encouraged some members to resign. But the rules were always there * what was lacking was the will to enforce them. The IOC could have signaled a new beginning. The leader of the IOC could have agreed, as requested, to testify before members of the US Congress, he declined. The IOC could have created a reform process that actively sought input and that embraced its critics. It did not, instead it hand-picked the members of Reform 2000 and structured a process without public hearings and without formal methods of input and consultation.
The IOC’s proven lack of leadership with the corruption scandals and the on-going doping scandals indicates it is time to put the doping crises in the hands of those experts who care about preserving the Olympic Movement. Decisive action needs to be taken now on the doping front. We cannot afford to loose the public confidence in the Olympic Movement. Athletes care too much about the doping crises and athletes want something done about it immediately. Too much time has passed and too little has been done to address the issues. The IOC has had the benefit of 20 years and now doping is a massive crises threatening the on-going credibility of the Olympic Games.
The IOC has been gravely remiss in its endeavors. And, given the unaccountable, un-transparent, un-inclusive and undemocratic structure of the IOC this is not surprising. However, as a public trust the Olympic Movement deserves better. It behooves the stakeholders of this public trust not to work together and build a brighter future for the Olympic Movement and for tomorrow’s young and aspiring Olympic Champions.
It is time for an anti-doping agency that is accountable, transparent and independent. It is time to conduct out-of-competition, random, unannounced and year-round testing of athletes. It is time for the IOC to work with the experts and stakeholders in setting up such an agency. It is time for a new beginning. It is time to set in motion the anti-doping agency which will provide a clean start to the 21st century.