14 000 copies of the new World Anti-Doping Code have been downloaded from the World Anti-Doping Authority's website. But, ahead of the World Conference on Doping in Sport in Copenhagen, March 3rd to the 5th, the UCI has expressed concerns that some parts of the Code are better than others. The automatic two-year ban is the biggest bone of contention: "The UCI has no wish to be soft on doping, but seeks to be just in sanctions."

UCI welcomes new World Anti-Doping Code, but has reservations

The UCI admits that "regardless of whether one agrees with its contents, the Code will be the standard for all anti-doping regulations, not only as a norm which should be complied with, but also as a standard of quality."

"The Code brings greater harmonisation between the anti-doping regulations of the IOC, the International Federations and other organisations. The rules according to which each of them must work will be basically the same and therefore known to all. The Code also imposes the sharing of information and the need for cooperation."

The UCI made a substantial contribution in examining the many drafts, writing comments and making proposals to WADA but the UCI is not happy with all of the Code

"Each article reflects an option or a preference that might have been different, for example if the Code had been written in another tradition and language than those of North America, or if there had been explanations as to why the proposal of one stakeholder was accepted while the proposal of another was not. In fact, except for some explanations in the comments included in the Code, only the Code Team knows the answer, as the choices were made by the Code Team and not by the collective stakeholders.

"The documentation that WADA sent round underlines that intense consultation with stakeholders took place. While recognizing the opportunity for sending comments, which the UCI did, the UCI feels that it was not consulted so intensively as that. Only after UCI, an International Federation with far from the least experience in the field of anti-doping and which attracts WADA’s full attention at other times, made this remark, a meeting between WADA and UCI was organised.

"It is the view of the UCI that the comments and demands of the International Federations have not been taken into account to a degree that would be entirely justified by the interests of their athletes.

"The main purpose of the Code is harmonisation. The UCI feels that an important aspect of harmonisation has not been achieved to the extent that the Code allows athletes of the same sport to be subject to the rules of national anti-doping organisations all over the world, organisations which, one might add, have no authority for doping control under the Olympic Charter. The rules of these national organisations may vary from country to country, especially in the area of results management and disciplinary procedures. Together with the associations of Summer and Winter Olympic International Federations, the UCI requests that these matters are regulated by the international federations on a worldwide level, in the interest of the legal safety of the athletes."

The UCI does not agree with a two-year ban that applies regardless of the consequences of the sanction for the athlete. A two-year ban is too harsh if, for example, it puts a de facto end to an athlete’s career, argues the UCI.

The UCI’s view is that all humans make mistakes and that even one who commits a serious offence such as an anti-doping violation must have the opportunity to repent and to be reinstated at a time when he has a chance to compete at a comparable level.

"The UCI thinks that this is part of civilisation, or at least of the tradition in ‘old’ Europe. It is reflected in criminal law and also in the doping law of some countries, such as France and Belgium, where there is no minimum or a very low one, and a maximum limited to two or three years. These laws have been adopted by democratically-elected parliaments.

"The UCI has no wish to be soft on doping, but seeks to be just in sanctions. Justice is also the concern of all those who have spoken out against a uniform two-year ban: the IOC, the Conseil de Prévention et de Lutte Contre le Dopage (France’s national anti-doping organisation), the Dutch National Olympic Committee, the Advisory Group on Legal Issues of the Council of Europe’s Anti-doping Convention, , Judge Mbaye, ASOIF President Denis Oswald, the late Alexandre de Merode, etc. Their opinions are well-reasoned and have nothing to do with softness.

"At least at this stage, harmonisation of sanctions does not extend to the legislation in different countries. Governments are not bound by the Code, and it remains an open question how many governments will accept the Code and its sanctions, and when they will do so, if ever.

"The sports federations are virtually obliged to accept the Code and apply its sanctions, even though they will have to do so in a legal environment that might sanction them

for it.

"Even if the UCI is not happy with a number of options that are taken in the Code, the Code is a fundamental tool in the fight against doping. The Code does not have to be perfect in the eyes of everyone for it to be indispensable and, with the governments not being asked to step in before 2006, there will be plenty of time for amendments, if necessary.

"Yet, however important the tool might be, even more important is the action for which it must be used. The fact that the Code is there will not by itself reduce doping. Doping is not in the first instance reduced by rules, strong declarations or sanctions on paper, but by action in the fields of prevention and testing."

"The UCI feels quite confident and will, in the interest of its sport and its athletes, use all opportunities that the Code provides to improve, wherever possible, its own doping and health control system that still stands as a recognised example for many."



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