Richard Stannard reports from IOC Conference
Richard Stannard reports on the 2nd International Athletes’ Forum 11th- 12th June 2005 Olympic Museum Lausanne
Richard Stannard, Chair of the Athletes Committee writes: The 2nd International
Athletes’ Forum took place in Lausanne, Olympic Capital on the 11th and 12th
June 2005 and gathered together members of the Olympic family including active
and former athletes and representatives from International Sports Federations
and National Olympic Committees.
This, the 2nd Forum, was initiated by the IOC Athletes’ Commission presided
over by World- renowned athlete Sergey Bubka.
The first Forum took place three years ago in October 2002.
The Forum is organized to give an opportunity to improve communication between
the various Athletes’ Commissions within International Federations, National
Olympic Committees, Continental Associations of National Olympic Committees
and the IOC’s own Athletes’ Commission. It also serves as platform for exchange
between these groups and allows the Athletes’ Commissions to move forward for
the good of the athletes
Events began on Friday evening the 10th June with a drinks reception at the
Olympic Museum overlooking Lake Geneva.
The IOC Athletes’ Commission had certainly done its job well in gathering together
63 different representatives from 39 different Sports.
Many recognizable faces were there including, Sergey Bubka, Frankie Fredericks
and Janet Evans to name just a few and it promised to be a very interesting
The Forum started with a session devoted to outlining the different types of
athlete commission their statutes, how they work and their activities.
A history of the IOC Athletes’ Commission was provided by Peter Tallberg, former
chairman of the Commission, and now an Honorary Member.
We were addressed by Dr. Jacques Rogge President of the IOC and by the Chairman
of the IOC Athletes’ Commission Mr. Sergey Bubka. Mr. Bubka gave an address
about the results and outcome of the 1st International Athletes’ Forum.
The main initiative had been the Athletes’ Career Programme.
A programme led jointly by the IOC and Adecco to assist athletes in the transition
period following the end of their athletic career. This programme aims to offer
the athlete the appropriate means to take the best route available to fully
succeed in his/her new life.
We were then addressed in turn by Mr. Kelly Fairweather IOC Sports Director,
Gilbert Felli IOC Olympic Games Executive Director, Guro Askheim Johnsen from
Adecco on the Athlete Career Programme and Tom Dielen Director of the World
Anti Doping Agency European Regional Office.
This was followed by the main objective of the forum- the meeting of the working
The forum divided into three groups to discuss: ” ‘Transition after sport’ lead
by Frankie Fredericks ” ‘Anti-Doping- safeguarding the Athletes’ led by Charmaine
Crooks ” ‘Economic influences affecting athletes in sport’ lead by Adne Sondral.
I served on of the Anti-Doping working group. Rania Elwani was a moderator and
two experts on the subject- Dr Patrick Schamasch, IOC medical Director, and
Tom Dielen attended.
Both Dr Schamasch and Tom Dielen gave presentations on Anti-Doping with the
Doctor highlighting some of the ways in which athletes have in the past tried
and failed to cheat the system, including the use of the ‘Wizzanator’.
Our group which contained HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein and a total 24 Olympic
Medallists (14 golds) had five topics to discuss. Anti-doping- safeguarding
1. Nutritional Supplements information.
2. How athletes can impact the fight against doping within federations.
3. Education programs using Athletes.
4. Sanctions and effect on the reputation of sports and athletes.
5. Future of Doping methods and substances.
Over four very productive hours were spent discussing all the points and highlighting
some areas of concern amongst the athletes especially regarding the safety of
nutritional supplements and their inconsistent labelling.
We were reminded of the Strict Liability Clause which states that “athletes
are responsible for any prohibited substance found in their system and therefore
need to be certain that they are not putting themselves at risk of failing a
test.” It was agreed that athletes need to be role models in the fight against
doping and that the future of doping gene therapy needed to be addressed urgently.
The conclusions of this working group along with the other two will be published
by the IOC Athletes’ Commission at a future date.
The first day ended with a meal at Chateau de Chillon, a fortress developed
in stages until the middle of the 12th century with the present castle dating
back to the 13th century, on the banks of the Lake in the rocky islet of Chillon.
Discussions soon moved to the topics of the day and more ideas were formulated
during the meal. Day two began with the preparation of the Working Group recommendations.
This proved interesting as many of the group, although fluent English speakers,
struggled with the final wording of the document.
It then proved more amusing as those whose native tongue was English still struggled
with the wording!
After a final lunch, we presented in plenary session the conclusions and the
This opened with a short introduction from Juan Antonio Samaranch the former
IOC President, and now honorary member of the IOC.
Each working group leader then delivered the conclusions from their respective
Finally, IOC President Jacques Rogge gave a summation of the recommendations
together with some of his thoughts.
He touched on the reviewing of Sports to be included within the Olympic Games.
He explained that the Games had to deliver the most attractive sports in order
to make the Olympics as appealing as possible.
With Sydney producing a record crowd and Athens being a sell out for Triathlon
it must be hoped that Triathlon continues to fall into the attractive sports
The afternoon was rounded off with a group photograph outside the museum much
to the amusement of the paying customers who did not expect to see actual Olympians
at the Olympic Museum!
A tour of the museum was offered after the close of proceedings and several
of the contingent took this up including Sergey Bubka.
The English speaking guide was slightly in awe as we toured the museum.
Although extremely knowledgeable it was during the display of track and field
memorabilia that her knowledge took a back seat. On the screen above our heads
appeared the final of the Seoul 1988 Pole vault with Sergey taking on his fellow
countrymen. Sergey saw himself and began to share his feelings with us. He explained
how he was struggling to find form and technique with a difficult head wind,
and how before his final attempt at 5.90m he suddenly saw the wind change direction.
The whole group was transfixed as we listened and watched one of the most prolific
world record breakers of all time talk us through his final attempt.
As he watched himself take the vault he told us of his overwhelming relief at
clearing the bar, of how his coach had had to leave the stadium before his final
vault and how drained he felt afterwards as he finally won gold. “I only got
one gold,” he said, but it was enough to cement his place in Olympic history.
It was a unique moment to have such an Olympic Icon prompted into describing
his personal feelings on that occasion to a captivated audience of fellow athletes
In summary, this second International Athletes Forum was a worthwhile and productive
The official findings and report will be published by the IOC Athletes’ Commission
in due course.
I am pleased to report that I was very impressed by the real interest shown
by the delegates and athletes alike in Triathlon itself.
The informal periods provided an ideal opportunity for an exchange of information
and experiences and it was clear that Triathlon had certainly captured the interest
and the respect of those associated with the more conventional Olympic Sports.
This was a very pleasing aspect of the whole occasion and it was a pleasure
to serve as the ITU Athletes’ representative.
The opportunity was much appreciated.
Richard Stannard International Triathlete United Kingdom (Great Britain):