ProtectingAthetes and Ensuring Sports – Free of Doping
Whenever we talk about Dopagem (the Portuguese termadopted by the Autoridade Brasileira de Controle de Dopagem—ABCD—for the act ofdoping) people usually think only about the consumption of performance-enhancingdrugs. Sometimes this is true. However, the larger truth is that doping is notrestricted to drugs of any type, it is about ethics; it is about values. Whenan athlete uses prohibited substances and methods in a sport which she or hepractices, they are cheating the competition, defrauding other athletes, whohave a talent, a technique, and the willpower to devote their lives to trainingand competition. Can you imagine anything more unfair?
The larger mission of the ABCD is to protect all athletes who compete cleanly, onlywith their talent, technique, strength, and will. Not coincidentally, the mottoof the World Anti-Doping Agency-–WADA-–is Fairness (Play True, Jogo Limpo).
When talking about WADA, people usually believe thatinternational institutions to combat doping are a relatively recent developmentin the history of global sports. However, the present situation is the resultof many years of antidoping efforts in the athlete’s life as well as in theentire sports community that surrounds them.
Brazil was one of the first signatories of theInternational Convention against Doping in Sport—CICDE, held in Paris onOctober 19, 2005, during the 33th General Convention of UNESCO.
Inspired by the experience of the best institutions inthe world for doping control, the ABCD was founded on November 30, 2011,fulfilling one of the commitments made by Brazil on the occasion of thecandidacy of Rio de Janeiro to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2016and, in addition, to meet the requirement established by WADA that allcountries have specific and independent plans for the fight against doping insport.
By accepting the invitation of the Brazilian Ministerof Sports, Aldo Rebelo, to build and implement the ABCD, I began to researchthe issue and it became clear to me that it was fundamental for us to developour strategic planning. In order to propose feasible solutions to meet the challengespresented by mega sporting events, and the day-today life of Brazilian sport,it was necessary to dive into the problem. And we did just that! Five key pointswhich guide the strategic planning and all of the actions of the ABCD emergedfrom that effort; Information, Education,Prevention, Intelligence, and Action.
With the appropriate and necessary information it waspossible to build the best Education programs to achieve Prevention; allowing Intelligence to assess what has been done and whatneeds to be done, therefore defining the path for Action.
To understand the then current situation of dopingcontrol in Brazil, it was necessary to take a national snapshot and compare itwith the reality of how Brazil compared to the rest of the world. As a result,we obtained a complete overview of the sector, identifying strengths andweaknesses, opportunities and threats. Based on an analysis of the variousprojected scenarios, lessons learned, and observed data, we mapped a processfor controlling, checking for errors and bottlenecks, and establishingpriorities that would guide the work of ABCD and which would be addressedimmediately.
Much of this work relied upon a broad survey conductedin early 2013, during the enrollment of beneficiaries of the Bolsa-AtletaProgram (Athlete Grant Program). At that time, 100% of Brazil’s athletes whohad been awarded a scholarship, and who were enrolled through the portal of theBrazilian Ministry of Sport, replied to the ABCD questionnaire. This enabledthe necessary accurate evaluation of doping control conducted by sportsauthorities in Brazil, since the sample universe included all of the athletesinterviewed. It is noteworthy that all who responded to the ABCD survey areelite, high performance athletes in Brazil, representing all of the sports ofthe 2016 Rio Olympic and Paralympic programs in their various categories.
The survey results revealed the need for moreeffective participation by the sports entities regarding prevention measuresand doping control, with a strong emphasis on guidance and education. Among themost disturbing findings revealed by the survey was, that only two out of 10athletes in Brazil already had undergone some sort of doping control test and,that the majority did not seek the advice of authorities when taking arestricted drug. Moreover, only a few Brazilian athletes looked to The WorldAnti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) website for help. Unfortunately, the web site hasvery little content in Portuguese, a situation which we at ABCD plan to remedylater this year by working together with WADA to increase the site’s usefulnessto Portuguese language speakers.
Based on this information, the establishment of theABCD quickly became mandatory. We elected to adopt the “Best practice” as ourreference. Thus, to define the model for the structure and functioning of theABCD, several national and international meetings were held with thoseresponsible for policies to control and combat doping in various countries ofthe world. We worked together on several agreements of internationalcooperation which provide exchanges in strategic areas of intelligence,education programs, and the training of agents for doping control programs.Today, the ABCD attends major events of the international antidoping community,bringing to Brazil the best world practices in the fight against doping insport.
The mission of the ABCD, the result of much internaldiscussion, reflects our philosophy of performance, that is, protectingdoping-free athletes: “Consolidate doping awareness and advocate at thenational level, the fundamental right of athletes to participate in sportscompetitions free from all forms of doping”. In practice, it means that we haveto promote and coordinate the fight against doping in sport in an independentand organized manner, in and out of competition, according to the guidelinesestablished by WADA, and the protocols and commitments made by Brazil.
Another important task of the ABCD is support of theLaboratório Brasileiro de Controle de Dopagem—LBCD, at the Federal Universityof Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), through assistance in obtaining the resources neededto expand and modernize its facilities, and as a mediator in agreements andpartnerships with other areas of government.
When ABCD began its operation, one of the maindifficulties faced by Brazil in the fight against doping was the lack ofadequate procedures for the importation of controlled substances, in smallquantities, for use as calibration standards and equipment in the LaboratórioBrasileiro de Controle de Dopagem/Laboratório de Apoio ao DesenvolvimentoTecnológico—LBCD/LADETEC. Moreover, the lack of defined processes for transitof controlled and biological samples used in the analyses performed by theLaboratory, as well as the importation of sample collection kits, representedat the time, a huge obstacle to antidoping activities in Brazil. To resolvethis problem, we participated, together with the Laboratory, in the developmentof revised guidelines and regulations with the Agência Nacional de VigilânciaSanitária—ANVISA (National Agency of Sanitary Vigilance), resulting insimplification of the importation of the materials used in the antidopingtesting process. The creation of specific processes and the establishment ofoperational procedures brought about improvement in Brazil’s capacity to dealwith the basic needs for effectively intervening against doping.
Joint action with ANVISA resulted in changesimplemented in the Bolsa-Atleta Program, the largest program of individualsponsorship of athletes in the world and managed by the Brazilian Ministry ofSport. Established in 2005, the Bolsa-Atleta Program is targeted at highperformance athletes who obtained the best results in national andinternational competitions in their sport. The Bolsa-Atleta Program ensuressupport for athletes training in their respective competitions. Currently, theBolsa-Atleta Program has more than 7,000 beneficiaries. Reaffirming theBrazilian commitment to fair play, all athletes, starting in 2012, when theyjoined the Bolsa-Atleta program, also agreed to submit to doping controlwhenever notified by the federation of their sport or by the Brazilian Ministryof Sports through the ABCD, at any time of the year, in or out-of-competition.
We also prepared a Terms of Membership where thebeneficiary (athlete) affirms in writing his commitment to know and to avoidsubstance use and/or methods that constitute a breach of the rules as describedin the World Anti- Doping Code, which integrates the International ConventionAgainst Doping in Sport (under penalty of suspension of financial supportprovided by the Bolsa-Atleta Program at the time of communication of the firstadverse analytical finding).When doping is proven, the athlete may have theirbenefits cancelled and need to return funds already transferred, as well asother applicable penalties depending on the individual case, after finaljudgment by the Justice of Sport (a courts that judge all National Sportscases).
Along with the Terms of Membership, every athletereceives a copy of WADA’s annually revised List of Prohibited Substances andMethods, a set of guidelines for the athlete’s safety, and information that theathlete should share with their family, team support, and medical staff, aswell as club officials, consulting them before they take any medication.
In 2012, the ABCD held its first out of competitiondoping control testing with the support of LBCD/LADETEC for the analysis ofsamples. This pilot action served to gather important information that assistedin the development of our Action Plan for 2014. Doping control testing wasperformed on members of the Bolsa-Atleta Program in more than 20 differentsports. This preventive and health action was conducted in Brasilia, Rio deJaneiro, and São Paulo and performed under the supervision of the AutoridadeAntidopagem de Portugal (ADoP) and included the participation of the mostsenior doping control officers of ADoP.
In 2014, our Test Distribution Plan provides for theimplementation of doping controls encompassing all sports entities. The costfor conducting the tests will be fully subsidized by the ABCD. Twenty percentof the tests (urine and blood) will be conducted out of competition withathletes from the Bolsa-Atleta Program and the Bolsa-Pódio Program (AthleteGrant for a selected group of athletes govern is providing huge supporting),and 80% of tests (urine) will be conducted during competition. Forout-of-competition testing, we will use a national whereabout system to beimplemented throughout the year. Further testing of additional urine (37.5% oftotal tests), involving EPO, growth hormone (hGH), and isotope, with theselection of the athletes, will be performed using Intelligence based analysis. Also, we willdedicate part of our resources to begin following the “Athlete BiologicalPassport” model, in which national and international authorities record theurine and blood profiles of athletes.
The ABCD will train and certify Doping Control Agents(DCOs) for the biennium 2014–2015. The Best of these professionals will beselected to work as DCOs in official test events, for the Rio2016 Olympic andParalympic Games. Further work will include training officers from othercountries in South America, who may also participate in the Rio2016 Games, aspart of a government policy presented to the South American SportsCouncil—CONSUDE.
Education is a priority for the ABCD. We want topromote the dissemination of information to athletes, coaches, technical staff,and family. Therefore, the ABCD, in 2014–2015 biennium is planning seminars andlectures geared toward athletes, educators, technicians, administrators,physical education teachers, physicians, pharmacists, nutritionists, lawyersand jurists, and sports organizations, aiming to spread the message ofantidoping and the rights of the athlete in Brazil.
Among other actions in the areas of education andprevention, we highlight ongoing projects on our website, www.abcd.gov.br. InMay 2014, we will offer a reference tool for the athlete, where they, afterindicating their gender and sport practiced can seek information about aparticular medication by just looking up the trade name of the drug, as well asguidance to the potential for use in accordance with WADA’s List of ProhibitedSubstances and Methods. Within a few months after launch this tool also will beavailable for use on mobile phones and tablets.
The National Anti-Doping Program is the crowningachievement of the Strategic Plan prepared by the ABCD. It is inserted as arelevant public policy within the Federal Government, having been included inthe proposed Federal Budget, with an expected budget of BRL $12 million (USD $5,269,764) for the fiscal year 2014.
The actions listed in the National Anti-Doping Programprovide a structured view for combating doping in sport in Brazil, seeking fairplay, and drug-free competitions. Further hearings to discuss and enrich theprogram with other sport management bodies are also provided for.
We are now at a point where, looking in the rearviewmirror, we can say we have come a long way. The ABCD and fundamental legalframeworks for doping control were created in cooperation with ANVISA. TheLBCD/LADETEC received the support they needed in relationship with allgovernment entities and with work on modern facilities now being finalized;extensive surveys of athletes and sports administration entities wereconducted, a strategic plan was developed and approved; doping control officersare now registered and active, the budget proposed for 2014 was approved, andthe National Anti-Doping Program was established at the Fourth Meeting of theCoordination Committee of the International Olympic Committee for the Rio2016Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Our goal is to have zero doping cases among the Braziliandelegation at the Rio2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Our dream is that during 2016 we have zerocases of doping in sport throughout Brazil.
The new international order to prevent and fightagainst doping in sport, based on the World Anti-Doping Code, reflects thegrowing awareness for ethical decisions in compliance with the Core Principlesof the Olympic Charter. Therefore, it is expected from us that we demonstrateantidoping-enhancing values such as self-effort, good example, respect forfundamental ethical principles, and especially, protection of the CleanAthlete.
Autoridade Brasileira de Controle de Dopagem – ABCD
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