Athletes worldwide will be subjected to the same anti-doping rules and regularly tested, sanctions will be uniform, and fresh emphasis will be given to raise public awareness of doping’s adverse effects under a new United Nations-backed treaty that is the first binding and universal legal instrument seeking to eliminate the scourge.
The International Convention Against Doping in Sport, which promotes no-advance notice, out-of-competition and in-competition testing, was adopted unanimously by the General Conference of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which is currently holding its 33rd session in Paris.
“A global response to a global problem, such is the challenge put to the new Convention,” UNESCO said in a news release today, noting that the last Olympic Games in Athens in 2004 revealed a record number of doping cases.
“It supplies governments with a legal framework for an international harmonization of efforts in the fight against a scourge that flouts the ethical and social values of sport while putting the health of athletes at risk,” UNESCO added of the treaty, which will go into effect once it has been ratified by 30 Member States, preferably before the next winter Olympic Games scheduled for January in Turin.
Most existing standards, whether national, regional or international, emphasize repression and anti-drug testing, methods which experts say are limited in their effectiveness, while others, such as the International Olympic Charter against Doping in Sport, are not universally legally binding.
The new Convention goes beyond testing and sanctions. It urges States Parties to “undertake, within their means, to support, devise or implement education and training programmes on anti-doping” in order to raise public awareness of the negative effects of doping on health and on the ethical values of sport, as well as to provide information on the rights and responsibilities of athletes and on testing procedures.
Regarding testing and sanctions, the Convention stipulates that all the world’s athletes be subjected to the same rules and regularly tested, with uniform sanctions for any infraction. It commits the States Parties to adopt measures in line with the principles stated in the World Anti-Doping Code of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), adopted during the World Conference on Doping in Sport in Copenhagen in 2003.
The Convention calls for a procedure that would quickly submit to all States Parties for their approval the list of prohibited substances and the exceptions, as drawn up and regularly updated by WADA.
The Conference of Parties is the ruling body of the Convention responsible for its implementation. The WADA is invited as an advisory body to the Conference of Parties while UNESCO provides the Secretariat.
The idea of a new legal instrument was launched during a ministerial round-table meeting at UNESCO in 2003, bringing together 360 participants from 103 countries.