Strasbourg, 25.04.2022 – The fight against doping in sport requires fair proceedings while respecting the need to protect an athlete’s private life including reputation and health-related information.
The Committee of Ministers has adopted a Recommendation to Member States aimed at reinforcing the human rights principles that should govern anti-doping procedures in sport, ensuring that essential safeguards of Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights apply fully to anti-doping procedures.
The Recommendation acknowledges key “fair trial” principles, namely the independence of the investigation and the competent jurisdictions, the rights to be heard and to an effective defence as well as the principle of public hearing and the necessity of publishing decisions. These essential principles are adapted to the specificity of sport and of the fight against doping.
The text builds on the work carried out by the Anti-Doping Committee, taking into account the relevant jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights and the World Anti-doping code.
Cases that have already been brought before national and international jurisdictions illustrate how the fight against doping in sport constitutes a matter of public interest and cannot any longer be treated as a purely private matter. Anti-doping rule violations have evolved considerably in recent years and are no longer solely based on biological-related findings. What is at stake is not only fairness for those accused of anti-doping infringements but ultimately public confidence in sporting bodies and justice in sport.
“We fight doping in sport to ensure fair play. The fight against doping also requires fair proceedings. Fair proceedings require independence of investigation, with disciplinary and appeal bodies truly independent and free from conflicts of interest. In recognition of the relevance of public scrutiny, it is also important to ensure the principle of public hearing and that decisions are published. The contributions from WADA, athletes’ organisations, the sports movement, and various Council of Europe bodies have been vital in the drafting process. I am confident that this Recommendation will further strengthen the public confidence in sports’ justice”, highlighted the Chair of the Ad Hoc Group of experts on ensuring effective access of athletes to justice and fair trial Anders Solheim.
“This ground-breaking text underlines once more the key role that our Organisation plays for the protection of human rights and the respect for the rule of law in values-driven sport. The Council of Europe, a unique platform for effective co-operation between governments and sports organisations, will now develop activities with its Member States to ensure a progressive implementation of this Recommendation. We aim at improving the system, in order to secure the principle of separation of powers, while respecting the autonomy and self-governance of sports federations”, emphasised Deputy Secretary General Bjørn Berge.