Sports News

Athletes have duty to report doping offences, says McLaren

EINDHOVEN, Netherlands (Reuters) - 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.

FILE PHOTO: Lawyer Richard McLaren poses for a portrait after delivering a report for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), in London, Britain December 9, 2016. REUTERS/Neil Hall

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 offence.

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,” he 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.”

Speaking to reporters afterwards, 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.”

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,” he 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 said.

McLaren added that, having obtained the information, sports federations then had a duty to conduct a proper investigation -- something that often did not happen.

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

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

Russia, which has always denied state-sponsored doping, has refused to accept all the report’s findings.

Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Ken Ferris