The problem of doping in sport
has received widespread coverage in recent years and poses a growing challenge
to the sporting world. The European Union has joined forces with the Olympic
movement and an International Sports Federation to support the development
of an information platform, which will greatly improve the flow of information
among the various sporting bodies and other organisations active in this
sector. Given the increasingly global nature of the problem, as well as
the complexity of this area from both an ethical and medical point of
view, a high-quality, centralised databank of information (website) will
make an essential contribution to the fight against doping in sport.
bottles have a 'tamper-proof' top
The increasingly competitive and commercial nature
of sport exerts considerable pressure on athletes to boost their performance
through the use of illicit substances. This is actually encouraged in
some cases by certain elements of their entourage for political and commercial
reasons. The threat is insidious but very real. There are considerable
health risks for the athletes involved, and the very spirit of sport as
a celebration of human achievement is being compromised. With the ever
increasing range of chemical stimulants and other products being developed,
however, this is a complex area and one which remains relatively fragmented
at a global level. Dr. Schamasch of the International
Olympic Committee's (IOC) explains: "The CAFDIS project aims
to bring together all the various interested players in the fight against
doping in sport. This forum will facilitate the exchange of information
and provide an important resource for all those concerned by this issue."
||Spinning an info
The need for greater
co-ordination and improved information exchange in this sector was
identified in the HARDOP project on ''Harmonising
ways and means of fighting against doping in sport", also
supported by the EU. To answer this need the CAFDIS project was
established. It is being led, under the co-ordination of the Olympic
Council of Ireland, by the IOC's'
Medical Commission, the International
Cycling Union, the national Olympic Committees of France and
Italy, and the Doping Control Laboratory of Athens in Greece, the
latter having a pivotal role in the next Olympic Games.
The CAFDIS project was launched in March 2001.
Dr Cummiskey of the Institute of Medical Sport Science in Dublin,
Ireland, envisages that: "The first step will be to establish
effective national information networks which are capable of feeding
information back into the project database on a regular and ongoing
basis. The project has already enrolled the support of the great
majority of the national Olympic Committees in Europe, IOC-accredited
doping control laboratories, and a range of other relevant organisations
throughout the Union."
||Developing a platform
The ultimate goal
of the project is to make full use of the most modern information
and communication technologies to develop an effective information
platform for all those fighting to stop doping in sport - the athletes
themselves, sports federations, doping control laboratories, the
judiciary, police and customs, medical personnel and even the pharmaceutical
industry. The resulting website will have four main sections with
various levels of access depending on the user:
Research and development: provides an
inventory of the research being carried out, thus helping to both
improve the flow of information and to avoid duplication of effort.
Education and ethics: offers general
information on the subject and the issues surrounding it. This section
is intended to have primarily an educational role and is targeted
at all the various sectors affected as well as the general public.
Laboratory aspects: traditionally an
area in which the exchange of information has been restricted due
to concerns over confidentiality, it is hoped that increased co-operation
can be encouraged to promote a greater harmonisation of drug testing
methods and standards. This issue is important to avoid costly legal
challenges to doping accusations and to reinforce the legal weight
of test results as evidence of drug taking.
Future trends: Contacts will be made
with a wide range of organisations, both within and outside the
sports sector, to attempt to gauge the future trends in doping.
Information from the customs and excise authorities and the police
may, for example, be analysed to detect current trends in the trafficking
of illegal substances; and links will be established with the pharmaceutical
industry to develop a better understanding of the impact of drug-related
The project is planned to run for three years
and the resulting website is scheduled to be operational in 2004.
Although the starting
point of the project is European, the aim is to rapidly extend its
activities on a global level. CAFDIS will work closely with the
newly formed World
Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the first project workshop, due
to be held in October 2001 in Dublin, Ireland, will include a number
of representatives from sporting bodies across the world. The problem
is clearly an international one and CAFDIS, by developing a structure
to facilitate the pooling of information resources worldwide, will
make a significant contribution to the fight against doping in sport.
And last, but not least, by gathering all the information together
CAFDIS will make it easier to identify those areas where further
action is needed.
A concerted action has been launched, under
the measurements and testing generic
activity of the Growth Programme,
aimed at significantly improving information exchange in the field
of anti-doping control.
CAFDIS - Concerted Action in the Fight against
Doping in Sport (GTC1-2000-28002).