In sport, as in many fields, there is ample evidence indicating that greater transparency enhances accountability and trust. Transparency in anti-doping, whether it’s publicizing athlete test history or announcing sanctions, is also an important way to deter doping and increase athletes’ confidence that their right to a level playing field is being upheld.
To become more transparent and build trust, there is plenty of data that anti-doping agencies around the world can share without impacting the effectiveness of detection and deterrence strategies. For example, here are three ways anti-doping agencies can embrace transparency:
Publishing Athlete Test History
Strategic and consistent testing is a cornerstone to an effective anti-doping program that helps maintain a level playing field for clean athletes. At USADA, our testing plan is developed by analyzing a number of risk factors to ensure that higher-risk athletes and sports receive a corresponding level of testing.
By publishing our Athlete Testing History, any athlete or member of the public can see how many tests USADA has conducted for specific U.S. athletes, and in different sports, over the course of a specific time period. Instead of wondering if their competitors or role models are being tested, people can track testing data and see how USADA is working to uphold clean sport.
Readily Announcing Sanctions
Anti-doping agencies also help deter doping and protect the integrity of sport by openly announcing sanctions, which is required by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Anti-Doping Code. In the interest of transparency and accountability, USADA’s sanction announcements are widely shared through our website, a press release distributed to media, and on social media, which better ensures that no doping violation goes unnoticed or unheeded. Additionally, the public announcement of sanctions helps deter doping because other athletes and support personnel can see how their career and reputation could be similarly impacted by doping and the resulting sanction.
To ensure further transparency and accountability, USADA also lists the prohibited substance(s) involved in every case and strives to announce a decision within five days of a resolution. In some cases, USADA also shares additional information that was relevant to the resolution of the case in the sanction announcement to better inform athletes and the public how a decision was reached. This transparency helps ensure that the public understands how the adjudication process works, while also increasing trust that there is a robust system of due process in place to both protect athletes’ rights and uphold the rules of clean sport.
One of the most important ways an organization can be transparent is through budget transparency, meaning that an organization discloses to the public where it’s funding and revenue comes from, as well as how that money is spent. USADA, for example, shares this information in its Annual Report each year, including how much funding is generated through a federal grant and a contract with the U.S. Olympic Committee. Our publicly available financial statements, which also disclose how much money is spent on equipment and on each program in the organization, are audited by an independent, third-party accounting firm selected by our independently chaired Audit and Ethics Committee.
While budget transparency offers a number of benefits, some of the most important advantages are increased accountability and trust. Making financial information public helps ensure that stakeholders can hold organizations accountable for effectively utilizing funds and operating efficiently, which similarly increases stakeholders’ trust that quality programs are in place to advance the organization’s mission.