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Is the 2009 WADA "Whereabouts" Rule (Requiring Professional Athletes to Report Three Months in Advance Where They Will Be for One Hour Every Day) an Unfair Invasion of Athletes' Privacy?


General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) stated the following in a Feb. 4, 2009 document titled "Q&A: Whereabouts Requirements" (275 KB) published on its website:

"Whereabouts are information provided by a limited number of top elite athletes about their location to the International Sport Federation (IF) or National Anti-Doping Organization (NADO) that included them in their respective registered testing pool as part of these top elite athletes' anti-doping responsibilities...

Whereabouts rules are part of the International Standard for Testing (IST)... The revised IST went into effect on January 1, 2009...

The requirement for top-level athletes included in the registered testing pool of either their IF or NADO to specify 1 hour each day (between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m.) during which they can be located at a specified location for testing. These athletes do not have to identify the 60-minute time-slot at a home address, but they can if they wish to. Previously this was a 24/7 requirement...

Any combination of 3 missed tests and/or failures to provide accurate whereabouts information within an 18-month period now leads to the opening of a disciplinary proceeding by the ADO with jurisdiction over the athlete. Sanctions range between 1 and 2 years depending on the circumstances of the case. Previously this was discretionary for ADOs with a suggested range of between 3 months and 2 years."

Read the the 2009 International Standard for Testing (525 KB)

Feb. 4, 2009 - World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) 

L. Jon Wertheim, JD, Senior Writer for Sports Illustrated, wrote the following in his Mar. 26, 2009 "Tennis Mailbag" column posted on the Sports Illustrated website:

"The civil libertarian in me (whose profile diminishes as I get older) thinks the [whereabouts] testing is unduly invasive. When players, such as Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray, complain about privacy issues, I think they have a valid point. Apart from the logistical difficulties -- what athlete in the transient sport of tennis knows where they'll be every minute of every day? -- there's something creepily Big Brotherish about this policy...

The pragmatist in me, however, sees how other sports -- track, cycling, baseball -- have been damaged (irreparably?) by spotty testing and drug scandals. The inner pragmatist also recognizes that unannounced, out-of-competition testing is the best way to catch the cheaters. If this burdensome testing is the price for keeping tennis out of trouble and upholding the dignity of the competition, it's a small price to pay. I don't like standing in the security line or being unable to pack shampoo in my carry-on. But if that's the price to pay for not getting my plane blown up, so be it."

Mar. 26, 2009 - L. Jon Wertheim, JD 



PRO (yes)

FIFA, the international governing body for soccer, and UEFA, the European governing body for soccer, stated the following in a Mar. 24, 2009 joint statement titled "FIFA and UEFA reject WADA 'whereabouts' rule," posted on www.fifa.com:

"The governing bodies of FIFA [Fédération Internationale de Football Association] and UEFA [Union of European Football Associations] formally reject the stance taken by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) concerning the 'whereabouts' rule and, more specifically, the individual location of team-sport athletes.

FIFA and UEFA want to stress the fundamental differences between an individual athlete, who trains on his own, on the one hand, and a team-sport athlete, who is present at the stadium six days out of seven, and thus easy to locate, on the other hand.

FIFA and UEFA therefore oppose the individual 'whereabouts' rule, and want to see it replaced by collective location rules, within the scope of the team and within the stadium infrastructure...

Furthermore, FIFA and UEFA do not accept that controls be undertaken during the short holiday period of players, in order to respect their private life.

Finally, FIFA and UEFA want to draw attention to the fact that, both on a political and juridical level, the legality of the lack of respect of the private life of players, a fundamental element of individual liberty, can be questioned."

Mar. 24, 2009 - Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) 



Rafael Nadal, six-time Grand Slam winning tennis player and Olympic gold medalist from Spain, stated the following in a Jan. 28, 2009 press conference, as reported by Deutsche Presse-Agentur:

"I think it [whereabouts] shows a lack of respect for privacy. I think it's a disgrace, particularly knowing what our sport is like. Even my mother or my uncle do not know where I am sometimes, so having to send a message or to be scared all day in case there is a last-minute change seems to me to be a complete exaggeration...

Those are things that completely have to change, and there is a unanimous voice on that in the locker room. It is an intolerable hunt. We have proved that we are a clean sport. You can count (doping) cases with one hand."

Jan. 28, 2009 - Rafael Nadal 



Verner Møller, PhD, Professor and Research Director at the Center for Sport at the University of Aarhus in Denmark, stated the following in his Aug. 20, 2009 presentation titled "Is the Whereabouts System Justifiable? Ethical Considerations in Light of the Michael Rasmussen Case," presented at the International Network of Humanistic Doping Research conference in Aarhus:

"This view is that athletes who choose to engage in elite sport must accept the rules of the activity. The WADA view is that if this is considered unreasonable, in principle every athlete is free to withdraw. This, however is not a justification of the whereabouts system as morally sound...

Anti-doping, especially the whereabouts system, seems to collide with both the leisure and the work perspective on sport... The testing procedure as well as the constant suspicion that is inherent in the control system collide with the dignity and integrity of the athlete. The requirement for top-level athletes included in the registered testing pool of either their IF or NADO to specify 1 hour each day (between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m.) during which they can be located at a specified location for testing seems to collide with workers rights. Athletes who are in the testing pool from the age of 20 to 35 is committed to more than six month house (or position) arrest [total time required to wait in one spot for possible drug testing over a 15 year period]. Their only crime being that they have a special talent for their job."

Aug. 20, 2009 - Verner Møller, PhD 



Shashank Manohar, President of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), stated the following during an Aug. 2, 2009 news conference in Mumbai:

"The clause with regards to whereabouts is unreasonable. We don't have a problem with dope testing, we have a problem with the system of testing. And the system has to be reasonable and acceptable to the person who is being tested.

The players have security cover and they cannot disclose their whereabouts with a security cover. Secondly, the privacy of the individual cannot be impeded. And thirdly... the constitution of India gives a person some guarantees, for every citizen regarding his privacy.

It cannot be impeded for all 24 hours a day, seven days a week for 365 days."

Aug. 2, 2009 - Shashank Manohar, LLB 



Andy Murray, a British professional tennis player, stated the following in an interview, as reported in a Feb. 6, 2009 article titled "Andy Murray Criticises New Anti-Doping Rules," posted on the website of the British newspaper The Times:

"These new rules are so draconian that it makes it almost impossible to live a normal life. I got a visit at 7am one morning at my home right after I had travelled home from Australia. I woke up not really knowing where I was and suffering badly from jet lag. It seemed ridiculous to me as I'd been tested just four days earlier, straight after the match I had lost in the Australian Open.

The official who came to my home wanted me to produce identification to prove who I was. He insisted on watching me provide a sample, literally with my trousers round my ankles, and then insisted that I wrote down my own address, even though he was at my private home at 7am.

I may miss a flight or a flight could be delayed, yet I have to let WADA know exactly where I will be, even when I am resting. They even turned up at my hotel in Miami while I was on holiday...

I support drug testing and strongly condemn any use of drugs in sport, but there has to be a more realistic and practical way to deal with the problem with tennis players."

Feb. 6, 2009 - Andy Murray 



CON (no)

The International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF), the governing body for track and field, stated the following in a Mar. 5, 2009 press release:

"The IAAF believes that the whereabouts system, which currently involves athletes providing a 60 minute testing slot 7 days a week, is both proportionately fair as well as absolutely mandatory for the effective fight against doping in sport...

Previous versions of the whereabouts worked nearly on a 24/7 basis. It is acknowledged that this is simply not possible and fair on the athletes. The option finally chosen by WADA of a 60 minute testing window for each day, is supported by the IAAF and we feel a good compromise between athletes providing no or very little whereabouts information, and having to provide 24/7 details...

As of today, any serious anti-doping programme cannot even begin to suggest that athletes could have many weeks (let alone days) away, free in the knowledge they cannot be tested...

It is interesting to see wealthy athletes in some sports complain about the requirements, while IAAF athletes in the middle of Kenya (as an example) have been finding a way to cope with the challenges for years with the assistance of their managers and support network."

Mar. 5, 2009 - International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) 



Roger Federer, Swiss 16-time Grand Slam winning tennis player and Olympic gold medalist in doubles, stated the following in a Feb. 1, 2009 interview with the Associated Press:

"It's a tough system, no doubt. It's a significant change to what we were used to before, so I think it takes some getting used to it.

I feel like this is how you're going to catch them, right? You're not going to catch them ringing them up and saying, 'Look, I would like to test you maybe in two days.' The guy's cheating and they're smart, right? It's an hour a day. I know it's a pain, but I would like it to be a clean sport, and that's why I'm OK with it."

Feb. 1, 2009 - Roger Federer 



Dag Vidar Hanstad, PhD, Professor at the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, and Sigmund Loland, PhD, Professor and Rector at the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, wrote the following in their Jan. 1, 2009 article titled "Elite Athletes' Duty to Provide Information on Their Whereabouts: Justifiable Antidoping Work or an Indefensible Surveillance Regime?," published in the European Journal of Sport Science:

"The arguments against the WADA system do not seem powerful enough to reject it. Everyday surveillance of individuals is far more extensive, it is concealed, and also more problematic. The WADA system is described in detail both when it comes to its contents and consequences, and it requires active participation from the person being watched. Hence, the system does not seem to involve undue violations either on principles of justice or on the grounds of athletes' autonomy and right to self-determination...

Given that we accept the principal and moral basis of anti-doping work, the compulsory reporting system constitutes nothing more than a logical and effective extension of its methods... WADA is gradually moving from doing antidoping work with unarmed weapons to shooting with live ammunition."

Jan. 1, 2009 - Dag Vidar Hanstad, PhD 
Sigmund Loland, PhD 



Thomas Voeckler, a French professional cyclist, stated the following in a Feb. 24, 2009 interview with Ouest-France, as quoted in "Athlete Testimonies on Whereabouts System" and posted on the WADA website:

"Of course giving your whereabouts is demanding, but it is normal to request top athletes from all sports to do it. I prefer losing time to provide my whereabouts with the hope that there will be fewer cheaters. Enhancing the number of out-of-competition tests is a good thing.

It is not complicated to provide a location for one hour a day. We are lucky to be able to make a living from our passion, so if it takes this kind of efforts to make sport more credible, everybody should contribute to this system."

Feb. 24, 2009 - Thomas Voeckler 



Andreas Thorkildsen, two-time Olympic gold medalist javelin thrower from Norway, stated the following on Mar. 17, 2009 to Deutsche Presse-Agentur, as quoted in "Athlete Testimonies on Whereabouts System" and posted on the WADA website:

"It's the price you have to pay to be a professional athlete. If you want to have a clean sport you have got to sacrifice something. And I don't think that's a very big sacrifice compared to other jobs...

We have been notifying the anti-doping body about where I was every day. I have kind of gotten used to it, so it is not a big deal...

It is the possibility of it which is so important. Of course they will not come to test you every day; most athletes will be tested around 5-20 times out of competition.

But most athletes know where they are going to be because of their training planning. I know three months in advance where I'm going to be. For me it was never a big deal."

Mar. 17, 2009 - Andreas Thorkildsen