Postponed 2020 Olympics raise questions about drug traps: USADA

TORONTO: The postponement of a year of 2020 Tokyo Olympics could open the door to convicted drug cheats to compete for medals, an issue that needs to be addressed, United States Anti-Doping Agency ( USED ) Chief Travis Tygart said Tuesday.

This was an issue raised in a call from national anti-doping agencies in 21 countries today, Tygart told Reuters. It is one of many complex problems to be considered and determined now that the Games have been postponed.

Currently, there is no exception to extend an anti-doping sanction for postponed events if the athlete or coach has met their ban when the competition is held.

Tygart has held a long-standing position that those who have been penalized, such as two-time banned United States Olympic champion and 100-meter world champion Justin Gatlin, have abided by today's rules and can compete.

There are now new questions that some athletes, whose bans prevented them from competing in the Tokyo Olympics , will have the opportunity to do so due to the change in dates.

If an athlete has followed through on his ban and is denied the opportunity to qualify for an Olympic spot, that decision could almost certainly be challenged in court.

Unprecedented, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) or World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) may have to consider a structure like that used by Major League Baseball, where a player suspended during the season for a performance-enhancing drug violation is not eligible for that year's postseason.



Athletes are well aware of the challenges we now face to ensure a level playing field, Rob Koehler, CEO of Global Athlete, an athlete rights advocacy group, told Reuters. It has been a major concern and a topic of discussion in the past few weeks.

As anti-doping agencies navigate these unexplored territories, they must engage athletes as part of the solution.

Athletes have more to lose when they are deceived by others. Therefore, they must have a collective and equal opinion on how we move forward to protect clean sport.

The question of doping will surely be one of many that the IOC, Tokyo organizers and WADA will address after IOC President Thomas Bach and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed Tuesday that the Games should delay a year due to the threat posed by the coronavirus outbreak.

WADA will implement an updated Code in January 2021, but told Reuters that, even under the new rules, there are no provisions to prevent a banned athlete from participating in the Tokyo Games next year if they have completed their suspension.

The periods of ineligibility imposed under the World Anti-Doping Code are for specific time periods and include all competitions that take place during that period, the WADA said in a statement given to Reuters.

There is no provision in the Code for Anti-Doping Organizations (ADO) to select the time periods in which the athlete would have more or less events to compete.

While an athlete cannot choose when they would like to be ineligible, an ADO cannot.