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Anti-Doping proceedings must be fair

A new Committee of Ministers Recommendation reinforces human rights protection in anti-doping procedures
Anti-doping Convention Strasbourg, France 21 April 2022
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The Recommendation on fair procedure applicable to anti-doping proceedings in sport aims at ensuring that the essential safeguards of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights fully apply to anti-doping proceedings.

Council of Europe core values such as fairness and equality shall be guaranteed in an increasingly important area for our society: sport and the fight against doping.

For ‘fair trial’ principles to be upheld, the investigation has to be an independent one, the relevant ‘court’ (often an arbitral panel) has to be equally independent from all parties involved, and its members knowledgeable in anti-doping related matters.

The Recommendation considers that for an anti-doping procedure to be fair, the athlete accused of an anti-doping violation has to have access to the documents and evidence, must be heard by the competent ‘court’ and should have access to an effective defence. Elements such as the right to adequate time to prepare a defence or the access to a lawyer should therefore be guaranteed. Equally paramount are the principle of public hearing and the publication of the courts’ decisions.

The Recommendation translates all these essential principles to the specificity of sport and to the uniqueness of the anti-doping system. It takes into account the need for a balanced approach, for instance to protect the athletes’ right to respect for private life.

In adopting it, the 46 governments of the Council of Europe recall that human rights also apply to the sport context, including for those accused of having infringed anti-doping rules.

The Recommendation was drafted by the Monitoring Group of the Council of Europe Anti-Doping Convention (T-DO) and adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 20 April. It builds upon pre-existing human rights standards, in particular the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights in relation to fight against doping, as well as on relevant anti-doping norms such as the World Anti-Doping Code.

The Council of Europe will develop activities within its Member States and beyond to implement these fair trial principles and to strengthen the human rights protection in anti-doping procedures.
 

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