Launching European Athletics’ I Run Clean(TM) online anti-doping education platform, European Athletics President Svein Arne Hansen said he will propose a regulation making completion of the programme a mandatory entry requirement for athletes taking part in future European championship events.
President Hansen, whose 2015 election manifesto called for “enhanced anti-doping education leading to a ‘driver’s license’ to compete”, said he will ask the European Athletics Council to phase in the new rule over two years, starting with the 2018 European Athletics U18 Championships in Györ, Hungary, with the aim that all senior athletes competing in the 2020 European Athletics Championships in Paris will have successfully completed the programme.
“For the last 18 months, athletes at our championships have been wearing number bibs with the words ‘I Run Clean’ as a statement of their commitment to fair play and doping-free sport,” said Hansen, speaking in Bydgoszcz at this week’s European Athletics U23 Championships.
“Now we are offering a fantastic tool branded with the same words to help them understand exactly what they have to do to keep that pledge.
“I believe the vast majority of athletes want to compete fairly and want to know that others will do the same. Our responsibility is to provide reliable information in a way they want to receive it, and it only makes sense to insist that everyone goes through this important preparation before they are allowed to compete in our events.
“The image of athletics will be enhanced if we can show parents, the public and partners that we are doing everything we possibly can to keep our sport clean.
“I want to thank the Chairman of our Medical & Anti-Doping Commission, Dr. Pedro Branco, and all the members of the project team for their great work to create this programme.”
Developed with input from athletes, sport officials, educationists and doping control experts, the I Run Clean(TM) programme comprises eight user-friendly interactive modules that can be accessed through computers, tablets and smartphones from the I Run Clean(TM) platform (www.irunclean.org).
The units cover the anti-doping rules, doping control procedures and issues such as dietary supplements and Therapeutic Use Exemptions.
The programme starts with an innovative unit stressing values and good decision-making, making it unique among current anti-doping education programmes.
Launched in English, I Run Clean(TM) will be available in 12 languages by the end of 2017.
According to Branco, elite athletes competing at European-level events are the initial target group because they are at the greatest risk from doping but mainly because they are role models. “When all national athletes, even youngsters, understand that this programme is something all top athletes need to do, they will be interested and they will want to get their own I Run Clean diploma.
“Our long-term aim is to help our Member Federations take the fight against doping to every athlete in Europe. We are currently working on the translations and starting to work with the federations to promote I Run Clean(TM) as a supplement or support for their own efforts to reach out to grassroots athletes and kids through clubs and schools,” he said.
Welcoming the I Run Clean(TM) platform and outreach efforts, the Chairman of the European Athletics Athletes’ Commission, former 400m hurdler Periklis Iakovakis said: “I want to thank President Hansen and European Athletics for taking this initiative.
"Athletes really want a level playing field and I think as more and more go through the programme, especially the younger athletes, they will understand their obligations and how to make good decisions. That has got to have a positive impact on the culture of our sport."