Sofya Velikaya: ″The observance of the rights of athletes during doping control will be discussed at the IOC International Athletes’ Forum″

Today the Russian Olympic Committee held the first meeting of the ROC Athletes’ Commission in 2019, chaired by Olympic fencing champion Sofya Velikaya.

One of the main items on the agenda became the discussion of issues related to the access of doping control inspectors to the athletes. According to Sofya Velikaya, more often than not a situation arises where RUSADA doping inspectors cannot fulfill their duties due to reasons beyond the control of athletes, for example, when the entrance door intercom is out of service or when there is a special checkpoint on the premises of a residential building. As a result, athletes are given out warnings and in some cases further sanctions are imposed by international sports organizations.

– I would like to support the initiative of the ROC Athletes’ Commission to start a dialogue on such an important and painful topic, – said Yuri Ganus, Director General of RUSADA, who attended the meeting.  – This calls for serious concern. It is good to know that, together with the Ministry of Sports, we were finally able to solve this long-standing problem, i.e. access of RUSADA officers to closed cities. Now, all entry points and security guards have been informed of the possible arrival of doping control officers. That being said, athletes themselves are fully responsible for the access of RUSADA officers to secured premises and apartment building and house entrances. Athletes get notified an hour in advance of the arrival and they must ensure unhindered access to the room where they are located. RUSADA officers are not obliged to make any preliminary calls, not a minute or a second before arrival, as is the case when problems are encountered with access to doping test facilities. This is the crucial position of RUSADA and athletes are not always happy with it.

Another topic discussed during the meeting was the participation of a representative of the ROC Athletes’ Commission in the IOC’s largest ever International Athletes’ Forum, which will be held in Lausanne from April 13 to 15. Olympic champion Sofya Velikaya will represent Russia at the summit in Switzerland.

– The International Athletes’ Forum will be an important event for all the participants in the Olympic movement, – said Sofya Velikaya. – For the very first time, representatives of all 206 National Olympic Committees will take part in it. This is a great opportunity to be heard. One and a half years remain before the Olympic Games in Tokyo and athletes have a lot of questions that need to be solved together. Among them are issues that we discussed at today’s meeting, namely the observance of the rights of athletes during doping test procedures. In order to discuss and promptly solve all relevant problems, we must be in constant contact with our foreign partners.

Participants of the meeting were also offered a video presentation of the English First corporation. This company provides a full range of services in the study of the English language and has extensive experience with various sports organizations and it is ready to cooperate with athletes.

According to Anastasia Davydova, ROC Secretary General, knowing English is necessary for athletes to create an effective dialogue with the international community, timely defend their own interests and protect their rights.

– English is the most important means of communication in the modern world, – noted the five-time Olympic champion. – I know from my own experience that the learning process requires a certain amount of time and attention. But athletes are disciplined people. I think they will be able to allocate 45 minutes for learning the language even though they have a tight schedule for trainings and performances. Moreover, knowledge of English will be useful for them after the completion of their sports careers.

At the end of the meeting, all members of the Commission received an invitation to take part in the celebration of Winter Sports Day, which will be held throughout the country on February 10. This year the festival will coincide with the 5th anniversary of the Olympic Games in Sochi and the anniversary of the 2018 Olympic Games in Pyeongchang. In Moscow, the main venue of Winter Sports Day will be Gorky Central Park of Culture and Leisure.