The ROC Athletes’ Commission meets with representatives of the All-Russian Sports Federations

The first ever meeting of the ROC Athletes’ Commission with the representatives of the All-Russian Sports Federations took place today at the ROC Headquarters in Moscow. During the meeting, athletes received a great deal of useful information and had the chance to ask their own questions.

In his opening remarks, President of the Russian Olympic Committee Stanislav Pozdnyakov emphasized that the main purpose of the event was to create dialogue between athletes and leaders in order to better understand each other. Topics on the agenda were as practical as possible and related, in particular, to the provisions of the Olympic Charter and the new anti-doping rules. The President of the ROC encouraged participants to pose questions and talk about any problem.

– One of the main trends of the modern Olympic movement is the fact that more and more athletes are increasingly playing an important role. As a result, the changes that occur are aimed at protecting their interests, – Elena Isinbaeva, two-time Olympic champion and member of the IOC Athletes’ Commission and the ROC Athletes’ Commission, was quoted as saying.

– The IOC Athletes’ Commission consists of 17 members representing different types of sport. They are elected during the Olympic Games. I was elected in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro. Before, the Commission did not have much authority and influence. But then, in 2016, IOC President Thomas Bach actively urged us to express our position, since our voice is very important. I am proud that during this period we were able to create and adopt two important documents. The first is a declaration of the rights and responsibilities of athletes. The second document concerns the Olympic Medal Reallocation ceremony in case an athlete loses a medal for anti-doping violations.

Elena Isinbaeva also spoke about the amendments to Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter. The paragraph regulating the behavior of athletes during an awards ceremony was made stricter. For instance, improper behavior – a demonstrative refusal to shake hands with an opponent or frankly disrespectful gestures – shall entail a specific punishment. Also, no kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.

Another important point was advertising. Fundamental changes were introduced to Rule 40 of the Olympic Charter further described by ROC Secretary General and five-time Olympic champion Anastasia Davydova. The essence of the changes is as follows – if earlier athletes and Olympic team members were strictly forbidden from using their identity, name, image or sports performances for advertising purposes, as of now this can be done. This development was, of course, welcomed by Olympic team members who have personal contracts with sponsors.

– Athletes and federations can participate in advertising during the Olympic Games, but they need to follow the rules established by the IOC, – emphasized Anastasia Davydova. – In particular, Olympic symbols cannot be used for advertising. Advertising tobacco, alcohol, and gambling is totally prohibited. Advertising should be general in nature. In order to obtain permission for the Tokyo Games, all applicants must notify the Japanese Olympic Committee in writing no later than May 15, 2020. Or, if the athlete passes the pre-qualification after the deadline, a notification must be sent no later than 15 days before publishing the advertisement.

By the way, the same amendment deals with the procedure for advertising on social networks, which is especially relevant for modern athletes.

Five-time Olympic champion in synchronized swimming and member of the ROC Athletes’ Commission Svetlana Romashina commented on the activities of the Commission:

– We were created in order to inform and advise athletes on issues not related specifically to our sports performances, but related to the world around us. We are very actively cooperating with the ROC and the IOC Athletes’ Commission, furthermore, we send delegates to international events, – said Svetlana Romashina. – The Russian Olympic Committee organizes numerous events in the field of mass sports such as Winter Sports Day, Walking Day, the Olympic Patrol sports and educational project, as well as Olympic lessons. I have participated several times and I can say that this is our contribution to the development of mass sports. Thus, we inspire children who, after communicating with us, want to go in for sports. Also when attending such events, athletes should look around and try to understand what they want to do after the completion of their sports career as this is one of the most important and problematic issues. Our careers come to an end, and afterwards no one awaits you with open arms. In this regard, the ROC and the ROC Athletes’ Commission are ready to help. Feel free to contact us!

Svetlana Romashina also recalled that the ROC Athletes’ Commission cooperates with the Olympic Support Fund in terms of allocating grants for educational programmes and conducts work with leading Russian universities meaning athletes can also count on assistance and support when acquiring new skills.

Each speech was followed by questions from the audience. Many athletes were present at the meeting and, prompted by ROC President Stanislav Pozdnyakov, were encouraged to voice individual matters of concern. Many asked about job prospects after the completion of their sports careers and about the opportunity to study English which is highly important. Another relevant issue highlighted was the change to anti-doping rules. On January 1, 2021, the updated World Anti-Doping Code will enter into force. Deputy Head of the ROC’s Legal Department, Viktor Berezov, and the Head of the ROC’s Integrity Unit, Maxim Verevkin, spoke in detail about the upcoming changes.

According to Viktor Berezov, the main changes are aimed at providing care for athletes’ health. This means that only an accredited WADA laboratory can conduct anti-doping tests. The processing of the test results will also change. For the use of drugs that are not associated with enhancing sports results, the disqualification period will be 3 months – if these substances were used in an out-of-competition period.

The new code also provides greater flexibility in terms of anti-doping violations associated with missing the doping test or falsifying doping control. Currently, the code provides for a disqualification period of four years, and after the entry into force of the amendments, the penalty may be reduced to two years. WADA has also taken into account numerous cases where prohibited substances appear in test results due to contaminated food additives. Their concentration in this case is microscopic, and the allowable content of these substances in the body should be increased.

The final topic on the agenda was the current situation related to WADA’s review of the compliance of RUSADA with the World Anti-Doping Code. The President of the ROC spoke clearly on this issue.

– The Olympic Charter is the main and fundamental document of the modern Olympic movement. One of its main notions is that the Olympic Games are competitions between the National Olympic Committees, – stated Stanislav Pozdnyakov. – The situation before the Games in Pyeongchang was quite a different matter. Then, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) proved that 11 athletes participated in the manipulation of test samples. As a result, the IOC decided on the disqualifications which were carried out. Nonetheless, a few days after the closing ceremony of the 2018 Games, the ROC was officially reinstated.

In this regard, no one ever doubted or had any questions for the Russian Olympic Committee. That is, the honesty of the ROC and our athletes currently competing in Olympic qualification events is crystal clear. On average we have no more individual cases of anti-doping rule violations than any other country. This is a natural part of the process towards sports integrity and the changing of priorities. Both WADA and the IOC are well aware of our concerted efforts to alter the anti-doping culture.

WADA’s accusations of irregularities are related to discrepancies in the databases between 2012-2015. The current generation of athletes has absolutely nothing to do with this issue which is technical in nature. It is worth noting that IOC President Thomas Bach has clearly and persistently expressed the same position. And the combination of these factors means that no matter how the investigation of RUSADA ends, we are going to the Olympic Games as a large and friendly Team Russia and we will participate in all the Olympic events.

These words were met with tumultuous applause from the audience. After that, the participants unanimously adopted the Declaration following the results of the meeting. The Declaration stipulates that such meetings are productive and in demand and recommends organizing them annually.