At the recent European Professional Sportspeople’s forum, FIFPro, the worldwide representative organisation that promotes the interests of over 50,000 footballers from 43 member unions raised their concerns over the current system of whereabouts.
• The main issue discussed was whether professional sportsmen and women are to be viewed primarily as employees and so subject first and foremost to European and National employment laws,
• Due to the ‘specificity of sport’ they should be subject to governing body rules rather than general extra-judicial procedures implemented by WADA and IF’s.
Whilst vehemently taking an anti-doping stance, FIFPro raised the following concerns regarding the whereabouts system.
• The current system does not sufficiently consider the agency and liberties of athletes as human beings, often neglecting their fundamental rights as sportspeople. Interpreting full-time athletes as employees within sport suggests that testing outside of competition or training exploits a competitor’s privacy and rights as an individual.
• Implementation of the whereabouts system is not universal and is therefore not applied equally to all athletes.
• The outcome of failing to attend three doping tests creates the same punishment as a test that produces positive results. It could be argued that ‘strict liability’ produces too broad a spectrum for implementation of punishment and doesn’t cater for individual or specific cases.
• Current anti-doping laws shape sport, whereas it should realistically be reversed. Training and competition needs should take precedence over restrictions to an athlete’s training programme that may be the result of the whereabouts system.
• It can be argued that the punishment (up to 2 year ban) is too strict, especially when we consider that an athlete may be banned on the basis that they have demonstrated forgetfulness or disorganisation etc as opposed to a failed drugs test.
• For those that are part of a team sport, doping tests and the whereabouts system should be incorporated into training regimes as such demands already provide sufficient information on whereabouts.
Go to http://www.fifpro.org/ to see an example of how some athlete groups are starting to respond to governance issue in their sport