STRASBOURG: The World Anti-Doping Agency has scored a major legal victory after the European Court of Human Rights rejected appeals against the application of the ‘whereabouts’ system writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

A group of French sport competitors and now-retired cyclist Jeannie Longo has challenged the French Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD) over the system by which elite athletes register their daily availability for an hour for random out-of-competition dope testing.

They claimed this was an invasion of privacy in breach of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights despite its approval by a number of European national rulings as well as by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

In its judgment, the Court acknowledged the impact on privacy but considered that “the reasons of general interest that make them necessary are of particular importance and justify the restrictions on the rights granted by Article 8 of the Convention. Convention.”

It added:  “[The ECHR] considers that the reduction or the abolition of these obligations would lead to increasing the dangers of doping for the health of athletes and that of the entire sports community and would run counter to the community of European and international views on the need for unannounced checks to drive the fight against doping. ”

The fight against doping in sport was important for the protection of health, especially of young amateur athletes, and the “protection of human rights. and the freedoms of others” in upholding the right of fair competition.

Deterrence and detection

WADA welcomed the judgment.

Director-general Olivier Niggli said: “Today is a good one for doping-free sport. Out-of-competition doping controls can be conducted without notice to athletes, are one of the most powerful means of deterrence and detection of doping and are an important step in strengthening athlete and public confidence in doping-free sport.

“Accurate whereabouts information is crucial to the success of anti-doping programs, which are designed to maintain the integrity of sport and to protect clean athletes.

“The only way to perform out-of-competition testing is by knowing where athletes are, and the way to make it most effective is to be able to test athletes at times when cheats are most likely to use prohibited substances or methods.

“While the rules inevitably create some inconvenience for athletes as they must divulge a certain amount of personal information and keep it up to date, it is clear that this is entirely proportionate to the wider benefits for global sport.”