USOC Increases Anti-Doping Funding by 25%

The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) has approved a nearly 25% increase in funding for the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) in light of recent doping scandals in Olympic sports around the world.  CEO of the USOC, Scott Blackmun, has vocalized his opinions on worldwide doping control and honesty in Olympic sports, describing the system as “broken,” and a “threat to the very meaning of the Olympic movement.”

The increase, which will take effect in 2017, will raise the amount of money the USOC allocates to USADA from $3.7 million to $4.6 million annually.  In 2015 USADA conducted 6,900 out-of-competition tests on Olympic athletes.  With this financial contribution the USOC has measurably increased its involvement with USADA, where Blackmun said most of the organization’s involvement was done “behind the scenes.”

In order to understand the impact that the USOC’s contribution will have on combating doping in sports, it’s worthwhile to take a step-by-step walkthrough of how athletes, international sports federations, and Olympic Committees are organized as it relates to anti-doping:

First off, athletes are the foundation of any sporting community.  For this example let’s consider a swimmer who represents the USA in international competition.  This American swimmer is a member of USA Swimming, which subsequently reports to FINA for international regulation over the sport.  As an Olympian, this swimmer also reports to the USOC, which works with USADA to test for banned substances.  USADA receives money from the Federal Government of the United States and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).  In turn, WADA receives funding from the federal governments of countries around the world, including the USA, and also from the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

The IOC and other organizations within the Olympic Movement are privately funded and reap billions of dollars annually from partnerships with companies including Coca-Cola, Dow Chemical, Visa, Omega, P&G, McDonalds, and more.  These corporate partnerships account for about 45% of the IOC’s annual earnings, and by partnering with the IOC these companies have increased privileges to advertise during the Games.  The deals the IOC cuts with broadcasting networks such as NBC account for another 47% of its annual earnings.  The remainder of the IOC’s funding is accrued from ticketing and licensing.

The American anti-doping labs that are responsible for testing athletes–both American and foreign athletes training in the US–are funded by USADA and WADA, whose benefactors we have already mentioned.  This model is relatively static across all 205 participant countries within the Olympic Movement, which includes International Federations (IFs), Organizing Clubs for the Olympic Games (OCOGs), and national associations and clubs from around the world.  It is important to account for all constituent members, as recent doping scandals in Russia have revealed that the motivation for an athlete to take performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) can go far beyond the athlete’s individual desire to win.

With athletes’ and coaches’ livelihoods often depending on corporate sponsorships which they only receive for international success in sport, the pressure to stand atop the podium can inspire dishonest actions to be taken.  The Russian government has also been accused of helping athletes get away with doping in order to bolster Russia’s medal count.  This is said to have happened during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

While the increase in funding will help USADA uphold the integrity of the Olympic Movement on the part of American athletes and athletes training in the US, it is also intended to set an example to other federations to step up and combat doping in their own countries.  Russia’s track and field team was banned from competing in Rio this summer after it was discovered that athletes and coaches had paid off laboratories to pass them when they were in fact guilty of taking PEDs.  Additionally, RUSADA is under investigation by WADA for allegations that Russian athletes cheated during the Sochi Olympics with the help of the Russian Government.  While doping is not unique to Russia, it has proven to be the most flagrant abuser of the system.

WADA and the IOC have called for an anti-doping summit in 2017, though a date and location have yet to be determined.  Thursday’s meeting of the USOC was the organization’s final meeting before the beginning of the Rio Olympics on August 5th.  While the Zika virus and polluted waters in Rio have many athletes and fans worried, Blackmun has been more concerned with athletes having the opportunity to compete on an even playing field in Rio and not be cheated out of Olympic glory.

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Steve Nolan
6 years ago

I mean if Scott Blackmun really wants to talk about “the very meaning of the Olympic movement” he should probably mention the “billions of dollars…from partnerships with companies.

About Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson originally hails from Clay Center, Kansas, where he began swimming at age six.  At age 14 he began swimming club year-round and later with his high school team, making state all four years.  He was fortunate enough to draw the attention of Kalamazoo College where he went on to …

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