Norway fears major doping sanctions – media
Norwegian sports officials are increasingly alarmed at the prospect of widespread bans if the country is declared non-compliant by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in a flashpoint stemming from the testing of young athletes, according to national media.
Norwegian outlet NRK says there are very real fears inside the country that it could be deprived of the chance of hosting major sporting events in the future, or even being barred from the likes of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
According to the news organization, the concern comes from Norwegian testing regulations for athletes aged between 15 and 18, which are said to be at odds with the WADA Code.
Norwegian rules state that parental permission must be obtained to test sportspeople from that age group, meaning no unannounced testing has been conducted for young athletes in the past two years.
According to a letter from Norwegian Sports President Berit Kjoll and Anti-doping Norway (ADNO) chairperson Thorhild Widvey, addressed to government ministers and seen by NRK, the situation could have major consequences – with the ADNO “expecting to become non-compliant [with WADA Code] around the end of 2022/23.”
The Norwegian sports federation (NIF) and ADNO are now scrambling to find a solution to ensure that does not happen.
The ramifications could range from a fine, all the way to being stripped of “the right of sports organizations to participate in the Olympics, Paralympics, or other championships, or the loss of the right to host competitions themselves,” according to NIF secretary general Nils Einar Aas, as quoted by NRK.
Anders Solheim, CEO of Anti-doping Norway, said it was a “very important issue” to resolve in the near future.
“There can’t be young people participating in competitions who can drug themselves as much as they want,” he said.
“We don’t want a sport where you can drug yourself until you are 18 – without taking a test. It provides an opportunity to cheat and gain an unfair advantage.”
Officials in Norway’s Ministry of Culture and Equality and the Ministry of Children and Family Affairs said they would“return to the case quickly,” but indicated that their understanding was that the WADA Code did allow for parental consent for the testing of youngsters when necessary.
“But on the basis of inquiries from the NIF and ADNO, we are now looking into the need and opportunity for athletes aged 15 to 18 to be able to consent to being doping tested themselves, and what may be an appropriate solution. We have good dialogue with all affected parties in this matter,” read a letter cited by NRK.