Conference of Parties to the UNESCO International Convention against Doping in Sport

As delivered by Sergey Khrychikov, Head of Sport Conventions Unit, Directorate General of Democracy


Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to be here today.

Democratic access to fair, honest and rules-based sports has long been a priority for us at the Council of Europe.

Today, sport is the single most popular activity in our member states and far beyond.

At its best, and in its full diversity, sport is open to all regardless of age, language, religion, culture – or ability.

This is good for our physical and mental well-being of course.

But it is also important for teaching us skills, and about the importance of rules, ethics and teamwork.

From the local sports ground to the Olympic Stadium, these values apply.

And when they are called into question – when sports are subject to manipulation, or participants and spectators are endangered, or where performance-enhancing drugs are in use – people are denied the fair competition that they expect.

Trust is eroded, cynicism sets in.

To tackle these problems, the Council of Europe has three legally-binding conventions that set common standards among states parties:

Our Macolin Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competitions.

Our St Denis Convention on an Integrated Safety, Security and Service Approach at Football Matches and Other Sports Events.

And our Anti-Doping Convention, which lays down binding rules with a view to harmonising anti-doping regulations, and which is of direct relevance to this Conference.

The Convention’s aims include:

Making it harder to obtain and use banned substances such as anabolic steroids;

Assisting the funding of anti-doping tests;

Establishing a link between the strict application of anti-doping rules and awarding subsidies to sports organisations or individual sportsmen and sportswomen;

And introducing regular doping control procedures during and outside competitions, including in other countries.

But while doping in sport is not new and the aims of the Anti-Doping Convention are still relevant, it is also true that the nature of the problem is evolving, and our response must do the same.

Today, more people are doping, across a wider geographical area, and in a more visible way.

As a consequence, the health of millions of athletes – mainly young people – is at risk and the image of sports as clean, fair and democratic is being tarnished.

So, what must be done?

National authorities must embrace their role as guardians of the integrity of sports.

This is not simply because of the increased scale of the problem, but because of the increasing number of state actors required to tackle it successfully.

Public health officials, certainly – but also those who work in customs, justice, law enforcement and more.

Major stakeholders including National Anti-Doping Organisations, the World Anti-Doping Agency and athletes themselves have an expectation that their national authorities will act.

And they are quite right.

But it is a fool’s errand for governments to try to fix this alone.

The reality is that this complex problem operates across national boundaries and countries must work together in order to maximise their success.

The Council of Europe’s Anti-Doping Convention and UNESCO’s International Convention against Doping in Sport are the only international treaties in this subject area that define legally binding obligations for their states parties.

This confers on our organisations a special responsibility to help member states raise their standards and coordinate their action against doping and the assorted criminal acts that underpin it.

And it highlights the importance of us working together, complementing one another’s work and avoiding duplication.

Compliance monitoring is a key example.

Over the last year, the Monitoring Group to the Council of Europe Anti-Doping Convention has developed an extensive and robust system of compliance monitoring.

This is designed to help states parties bring their policies and practice into line with the Convention.

And I know that UNESCO is seeking to strengthen its compliance monitoring programme by adopting operational guidelines and a framework of consequences for non-compliance.

The Council of Europe would be very happy to share its expertise and work with UNESCO on building a system that would be effective around the world.

A co-operation mechanism has already been established between my Organisation and WADA and I want to reiterate our invitation to UNESCO to join this once its new operational guidelines are adopted.

Your participation would be warmly welcomed.

Of course, international law also requires that member states themselves undertake the work required to produce results.

For example, the investigation activities of National Anti-Doping Organisations and International Federations must be supported;

There must be an effective exchange of information between police and customs;

And individuals’ fundamental rights must be respected and protected in the anti-doping context, as in any other.

Drawing on our human rights expertise, including the case law of the European Court of Human Rights, the Council of Europe is therefore preparing a set of general, human rights-based principles for sports justice.

And we are also looking at the possibility of setting standards for the protection of whistle-blowers, which is of great importance in the fight against doping.

These new standards will be developed in Europe, but their impact will be felt beyond our member states.

And we look forward to working with UNESCO on their normative development, so that they might be useful on other continents too.

Ladies and gentlemen, this Conference is timely and important.

It is also a signal of our common resolve to work together.

There is a great deal to do.

Thank you.