Sponsors have ‘duty’ to help fund programs to tackle drugs in sport says doping agency boss

The head of the international body responsible for tackling doping in sport has called on sponsors to funnel more money towards it so it can do a better job to "uphold the integrity of sport".

Craig-Reedie_0The head of the international body responsible for tackling doping in sport says sponsors have a “duty” to help fund its anti-doping programs so it can do a better job to “uphold the integrity of sport”.

Globally sport has been rocked in recent years with multiple revelations of doping in sports such as cycling and athletics, while locally, AFL in particular has come under a shadow over the long-running Essendon scandal which resulted in a number of players suspended for taking banned substances.

Sir Craig Reedie, the president of the World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) made the calls in an opinion piece published in The Guardian today, arguing: “For sponsors, all the benefits of association with a sport or a star athlete may be easily tarnished through an athlete’s doping scandal.

“Doping is a threat to the sponsor’s business, so why would sponsors not want to fund clean sport, and have a stake in the positive values clean sport exudes? Such a move would be in step with public opinion.”

In the article, Reedie used the example of pharmaceutical companies that should have “a significant stake in ensuring that its products are being used for legitimate medical reasons, not abused by athletes seeking an edge”.

He adds: “As one person suggested to me, why does an organisation that sponsors an athlete, who has been sanctioned for doping, not attribute the money it would pay the athlete during that sanction to the anti-doping movement, instead? That is surely where its interest should lie.”

WADA has come under pressure in recent months after revelations of widespread doping among the Russian athletics team, which has been banned from competing at this year’s Olympics.

In the article Readie says WADA has an annual budget of $30m and “has to cut its coat accordingly”, adding: “To really confront the scale of doping, we all need to dig deeper. Sport is a huge, global business in 2016, and the industry – though regrettably not anti-doping – is awash with money.”

He also pressed the case for a “tariff” to be taken from media rights and given to the body to help it with its enforcement practices.

“Why not, as some have argued for before, suggest some form of tariff on the media rights holders who pay for the sport’s rights? To impose, for example, a 0.5% tariff on this $35bn annual media rights figure would instantly put $175m more in the anti-doping coffers,” he wrote.

“With such extra funds, we could make a greater impact in protecting the rights of the clean athletes and, in turn, uphold the integrity of sport.”

Alex Hayes

The session ‘Should I Stay or Go?’ at Mumbrella’s Sports Marketing Summit on July 28 will look at the complex issues around brands continuing or ditching sponsorships in the wake of scandals. Find out more and book your tickets using the banner below.



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