The president of the International Olympic Committee has asked its members for suggestions on what changes need to be made to the anti-doping system in the wake of the doping controversy that saw Russia’s track and field team excluded from the Rio Olympics and all of the country’s para-athletes barred from the Paralympics, which finished yesterday.
The news comes as the Russian cyber hackers known as Fancy Bears publish a fourth list of athletes who competed at last month’s Olympics who had been granted Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs), the latest names including British track sprinter Callum Skinner.
IOC president Thomas Bach’s appeal for ideas of how to take the fight against doping forward come at a time when the organisation’s relationship with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which it funds jointly with national governments around the world, is particularly strained, and coincides with calls for more transparency surrounding the use of TUEs, which allow athletes to be prescribed drugs that are otherwise banned.
According to the website Inside The Games, Bach, who will next month chair an Olympic Summit, wrote to the 97 IOC members ahead of a WADA Think Tank taking place today, as part of a forthcoming review of anti-doping measures.
Looking ahead to that summit, Bach wrote: "One of the issues will follow the declaration of the previous Olympic Summit and Olympic Agenda 2020 to make the anti-doping system independent from sports organisations.
"With regard to this initiative and more ideas, your guidance and input are crucial for the success of the discussion leading to the decisions to be taken by WADA.
"Therefore I would like to encourage you all to send in your thoughts.
"I will also ask the chairs of all the IOC Commissions to set aside some time in their agendas during the meetings in November to give everybody the opportunity to express themselves.
He added: "All this should lead to an Extraordinary World Conference on Doping in Sport 2017, result in a more robust, more efficient, more transparent and more harmonised anti-doping system."
In the wake of the McLaren Report which said there had been a state-sponsored cover-up of positive doping controls involving Russian athletes, WADA had called for the country to be subject to a blanket ban for the Rio Olympics.
The IOC however left the decision on whether or not to ban competitors from Russia to individual governing bodies, although it did exclude those who had previously served doping bans, only for the Court of Arbitration for Sport to overturn that decision in the days before the Games began.
Bach’s letter continued: "The McLaren Report and other incidents with regard to the fight against doping have made it clear that we need a full review of the WADA anti-doping system
"The Olympic Movement, as 50 per cent shareholder of WADA, is ready to contribute to this discussion, as which WADA has initiated a meeting of a Think Tank.
"This review can be a turning point for the better in the fight against doping.
"It is for this reason that your active participation in this process is so important.
"Also, in this regard, we need to work together to come to a joint solution that ensures the integrity of sport, the protection of the clean athletes and is accepted by the stakeholders of the Olympic Movement.
"This is why I am asking each one of you for your guidance and your ideas which I, as always, appreciate very much," he added.
In the light of the continued publication of confidential medical information of athletes competing at Rio by the Fancy Bears hackers who accessed WADA’s database via an IOC login, the issue of TUEs is likely to be one area of focus.
While there is no suggestion that any of the athletes whose details have been published to date have done anything wrong, there are concerns that the system is being abused, and there have been calls for greater transparency.
People advocating that details of exemptions granted be made public include Cannondale-Drapac team boss Jonathan Vaughters, who tweeted: “Want a good solution for TUEs? Make it compulsory to publicly disclose all TUEs. Any athlete would think twice unless they really needed it.”
Documentation published yesterday by the cyber hacking group shows that Skinner, winner of team sprint gold and silver in the individual event at Rio, was given a TUE for a five-day course of prednisolone, typically prescribed for inflammation, at the Track World Cup in London in November 2014.
He also received clearance to take the anti-asthma drug salbutamol for two days in January this year.
Skinner said on Twitter: "In relation to the 'Fancy Bears' hack: I believe in openness and transparency I will happily provide more information over the next few days."
Other athletes whose medical information was published by the group today include four-time Olympic gold medallist Mo Farah, and Spanish tennis star Rafal Nadal.
Previous leaks by the hacking group have included TUE certificates issued to Sir Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome and Laura Trott, among others.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.