ASB MAGAZINE: The International Surfing Association (ISA) and the World Surf League (WSL) have heralded a landmark agreement that will see both parties adopt a comprehensive anti-doping program ensuring athletes are eligible for the sport’s Olympic debut in 2020. The program will be run in accordance with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Code and the ISA’s Anti-doping Rules and will be run throughout the WSL Championship Tour (CT) in 2019 and 2020 leading into the Olympics.
The agreement is unprecedented and a powerful example of good collaboration between an International Federation and the associated professional league in the long-term Olympic interests of the sport and commitment to clean competition.
With the 2019 CT serving as a qualification events for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, the WSL has agreed to a restructured anti-doping program ensuring all their CT surfers are compliant with Olympic Charter and WADA Code ahead of Surfing’s historic Olympic debut. As a professional, independent body, the WSL is not a formal signatory to the WADA code – a requirement for athletes or events seeking Olympic eligibility. As such, and to ensure compliance for Olympic qualification, WSL has agreed to implement a tailored anti-doping program under the ISA’s Anti-doping Rules. All WSL CT surfers voluntarily agreed to the program prior to the start of the 2019 CT, and will now be subject to both in and out of competition testing and whereabouts requirements, conducted and managed by the WSL and the International Testing Authority (ITA) in accordance with the WADA Code. The ITA was formed last year by the stakeholders of the Olympic Movement to ensure greater transparency and credibility in global anti-doping efforts.
By agreeing to the ISA Anti-doping Rules, the WSL’s surfers reinforce their commitment to the sport’s Olympic debut, which was achieved after decades of ISA lobbying. The WSL commitment reinforces the important impact that Olympic inclusion is having on the professionalism of the sport, the aspirations of the athletes, and the long-term future of Surfing around the world.
ISA President, Fernando Aguerre, said: “This historical agreement with the WSL and their professional surfers on this critical subject is very important news for our sport and a phenomenal step forward as we continue to prepare for Tokyo 2020. Surfing is a sport of integrity and we are committed to preserving and promoting clean sport. I am proud today to see WSL and ISA work together to adopt such a rigorous approach to clean sport. We are on the cusp of a special era in Surfing’s history, and I am excited to be entering this era with robust processes and partners.
“Surfing’s Olympic inclusion continues to push our sport in new and exciting directions which look set to continue into the future. I am honored and pleased to stand behind the long and determined efforts of the ISA to ensure Surfing joined the Olympic Program for Tokyo 2020 and now hopefully, also in Paris in 2024.”
WSL CEO, Sophie Goldschmidt, added: “This agreement not only reflects the WSL’s continued commitment to clean sport, but also to being a good partner to the ISA and the Olympic Movement. I am proud that our surfers have understood the importance of this matter and willingly stepped up to this obligation. We appreciate this continued collaboration with the ISA on the Olympic qualification process.
Olympic inclusion has changed our sport for the better and I cannot wait to see the elite athletes of Surfing competing on the greatest stage – it will be an incredible spectacle.
“Alongside Fernando and the entire ISA team, we are committed to the Olympic Movement’s principles, including clean, competitive sport where genuine athletic ability is at the fore. I want to thank the ISA for their collaboration, and we look forward to an amazing year ahead for Surfing on the road to Tokyo 2020 and beyond.”
ITA Director general, Benjamin Cohen, stated: “The ITA supports the collaboration between the ISA and the WSL to coordinate and bring together their anti-doping efforts as well as to harmonize testing standards and policies in the sport of surfing prior to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. The ITA will ensure that surfing has a robust and harmonious WADA-compliant program worldwide. Moreover, this agreement represents an outstanding achievement which underlines the commitment to clean sport of both surfing bodies and may serve as an example for similar partnerships between other international sports federations and their professional leagues. We very much look forward to supporting surfing maintain their sport clean.”