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Home arrow newsitems arrow CoE to Boost Athletes' Human Rights after Anti-Doping Zig-Zag Row between Russia - SKorea Olympics

CoE to Boost Athletes' Human Rights after Anti-Doping Zig-Zag Row between Russia - SKorea Olympics

Pisac ACM
20. 03. 2018.
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*Strasbourg/CoE/Angelo Marcopolo/- Acting Fast, After the Recent Olympic Games' Row, which initially Excluded, Before Later Restoring to their Rights, many Russian Athletes, regarding Doping Allegations, according to Controversial Procedures, for the First Time, a consistent Draft "Charter of Athlete Rights" was Discussed in Strasbourg, in view of a possible adoption in a Few Months' Time,  at CoE's 47 Member States-strong PanEuropean Organisation for Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law, in Cooperation with the Global Anti-Doping Agency (ADA), during an Exceptional International Conference co-Organized Together with CoE's Anti-Doping Convention's Experts, (a European Legal Text, Open for Signature to All Countries in the World).


While, on December 2017, IOC had Banned Dozens of Top, Prize-Winning Russian Athletes, and Stripped them from the Medals and Titles that they had Won, allegedly thanks to Doping, exceptionally Excluding even the Country as such, from the Latest, 2018 Olympic Games at PyeongChang, in South Korea, because of Doping Allegations Dating since the Previous Olympic Winter Games of 2014 at Sochi (Russia), suddenly, on February 2018, the Court of Arbitration on Sport (CAS), cancelled many of those rulings,  reversed or, at least, reduced and limited several others, after Finding that they Lacked of Sufficient Evidence, had been obtained after Controversial Procedures, and/or were DisProportionate, etc. But that Rectification came too Late, for the concerned Athletes, who were Excluded from the 2O18 Olympic Games, added also to various Other Negative Repercussions to the Detriment of their Honor, Reputation, Social and/or Professional Lives.


+ By a Timely Coincidence, the Experienced Russian Health Minister, Veronika Skvortsova, (who has Recently been Elected also President of  the World Health Organisation (WHO)'s Assembly at nearby Geneva), was Today in Strasbourg, where she met with CoE's Secretary General, Thornbjorn Jagland this Same Morning.

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=> - "Athletes' Human Rights must be Protected, and their Voices Heard" : This "Issue ..will be addressed at (CoE's) Next Conferene of Ministers responsible for Sport, which will take place in Georgia, on October" 2018, Announced, from the outset, CoE's Deputy Secretary General, Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni, (who has also a personal Experience on that area, since she has served also as former Sports' Minister).


-  Indeed, "the Credibility of the Anti-Doping" Institutions, as well as "the Human Rights of Athletes" require to Act, particularly for their Right to a "Fair Hearing" by an "Independent and Impartial" body, similar to that of EConv.HR's "Article 6", etc. For that, we need to hold sincere and open "Discussions" with all the stakeholders, pointed out ADA's vice-President, the MInister for Children and Equality from Norway, Linda Hofstad-Helleland.


- We want that forthcming "Charter" on Athletes' Rights "to be Robust", and, for that purpose, we must "add Input to the Process" if its Preparation, while also meeting the relevant "Time Deadlines", incited the President of CoE's Anti-Doping Convention's Monitoring Group, Anders Solheim, who introduced to the Debates which followed, (partly Open to the Press, partly "In Camera").


- Several among the Participants to that Debate, (taken among Athletes, NGOs, Experts, etc), Criticized what they found to be the "too Complex", sometimes even "Confusing", character of the current Legal Texts and/or Mechanisms used in the Anti-Doping activities, asking to "Clarify" them for the Athletes+.


=> - "Whenever we speak about Sochi (Comp. Supra), I'd better Put my Glasses on !", characteristically Joked, in this regard, the former Football Player, and currently Chie Technical Development Officer at the FIFA, Marco Van Basten, during a Dialogue between Experienced Athletes, Together with another former Footballer, Jan Age Fjortfoft, from Norway.


+ Other Participants tno that Debate prefered to Focus on the Need for "Transparency" of the relevant Procedures, and for the "Independence" of those due to take Decisions.


++ Last, but not least, several Participants asked for "Efficiency", and "to Make Sure that the Rules are Applied to everybody", etc.


The 2nd Debate, about the Concrete Measures, with which CoE intends to Boost Athletes' Rights, was held Behind Closed Doors (for the Press).


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=> "Eurofra" found, meanwhile, CoE's Draft "Declaration" about the forthcoming "Charter of Athlete Rights", which is a Document of 5 Pages, in the form of a Legal Convention with 17 Articles :


 - "Sport is Controlled by International ... Federations, National ... Organisations, Professional .. Leagues, Employers, Businesses and Governments", while "Athletes are the Public Face of Sport, and Athletic Performance is fundamental to the Prestige, Popularity and Viability of Sport". In consequence, "the Politisation and Commericalisation of Sport Today, sees a Failure to uphold the Humanity of Sport and the Dignity of the Player, and a Violation, by Sports' Organizations, of Internnationaly Recognized Human Rights", COE's Draft notes from the outset.

 - "Education, Health and Safety", "Equality of Opportunity", "Fair and Just Sporting Conditions", "Privacy" and "Protection of Name, Image and Performance" and "Rights of the Child", as well as "Freedom of Expression", "Representation", "Access to Court", "Procedural Justice" and "Right to an Effective Remedy", concerne the Substantial Rights of the Athletes, and the Means to Defend them.

+ "Freedom from Doping and Corruption", as well as the "Duty to Respect the Rights of Others and (to) Advance Sport", go more in the Direction of their Obligations, (even if CoE's text also speaks of "Freedom from Doping", and about "Athlete"'s "Right to a Sporting Environment ...Free of" Doping) :


- "Doping"'s Definition is considerably Simplified, (compared to the Complex and Confusing original Definition in the Anti-Doping Connfession) : It's just "Using Banned Substances".  

      
- Relevant "Genetic Manipulations" should, normally, be Included into that, since almost All of them use some kind of "Substances", noted a CoE's Expert, speaking to "Eurofora". Moreover, CoE's Draft calls also to "Presetve teh Integrity of Spot, ...Fee from ...Manipulation" (etc), she pointed out, in his regard.


+ At the same time, "Every Athlete has the Duty to Advance and Promote the Interests of his .. Sport and Community", and to Help "Ensure that Everyone can Enjoy Sport, and that the Health of Sport and the Social and Cultural role in Society is preserved", CoE's text concludes.  ,


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 >>> Curiously, this CoE's "Charter" does Not contain any Definition of what is an "Athlete"... Therefore, "Eurofora", speaking to CoE's Experts, suggested that, in fact, this New Draft might implicitly Refer to the Crystal-Clear Definition already Given by CoE's Anti-Doping Convention, according to which : - ""Sportsmen" .. means those Persons who Participate Regularly in organized Sports Activities". (Article 2).


An eventual Professionalisation is Not a matter of Definition of what is an "Athlete". But, on the Contrary, a "Right", that "every Athlete has", "to Share Fairly in the Economic Activity and Wealth of his .. Sport, which Athletes helped generate", (i.e. If and When he might Wish to do so), as it results from CoE's Draft "Charter of Athlete's Rights" (Article 6, on "Economic Activity").

 

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In other words, it Reminds (mutatis-mutandis) the Definition of "Journalism" already given by 2 landmark Decisions of the Inter-American Court, as Early as since 1985, as a Person engaged in a Regular Activity of Searching, Formulating and Publishing News of General Interest for the Society, that a Recent CoE's Book on "Press Freedom" published on March 2017, by a Team of Experts (including the new Secretary General of the European Federation of Journalists from Brussels, etc). Something which is, obviously, much more Closer to ECHR's Case-Law, than a merely "Fiscal" Description of some Bureaucrats who, curiously, insist to Reduce the Noble Vocation of "Journalism", only to a mere ..."Card" attesting what kind of Business might Pay the Majority of an Individual's Revenues (sic !)...


I.e., CoE naturally Prefers, Both for "Athletes" and for "Journalists", a Definition Focusing on the "Substance" of their Real Activities in the Society, instead of Merely Restricting it to a Sly, Fiscal Description, which has Nothing to do with the Substance of the Issue.

(../..)

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  imag0573_400

    An "Eugenic" loophole Amendment, which might expose to Dangers reminiscent of "3rd Reich's" notorious Genetic Abuses, hidden at the last minute inside an otherwise Good, larger Health policy Package scheduled to be voted on Thursday, was strongly denounced by a coalition of MEPs from various Political Groups and Countries, in a Press Conference held this afternoon at EU Parliament in Strasbourg.

    Mainly calling to "Select Human Embryos", via "Genetic Counselling" and "pre-implantation" Techniques including "Genetic Tests", in order to "Eradicate Hereditary rare Diseases", it might open ways to Dangerous Practices in Future, they denounced in substance.

    But they also made it clear that a much larger Report inside which this Controversial Amendment "No 15" was added in dubious circumstances, officialy destinated to struggle against "Rare Diseases", and drafted by Professor Antonios Trakatellis, was otherwise "an Excellent Report", aiming at a "completely Uncontroversial target" of Health policy on which "all MEPs and Experts are united, believing that Europe should act" to protect People's Health (See "EuroFora"'s earlier News).

    The controversy came at a particularly delicate moment for the EU in relation to Citizens, at the eve of June 2009 EU Elections, and shortly before Ireland re-votes for "Lisbon Treaty"..    

- Denouncing risks of "an Eugenic demand, very similar to what we had during the 3rd Reich in Germany, but now coming from some Scientisists themselves", German ChristianDemocrat/EPP MEP Dr. Peter Liese stressed that critical MEPs were against "Eugenic" engineering with "Selection of Human Embryos", and anything which might ultimately lead up to to a "Selection of Human Race". It doesn't help to "eradicate" Human Lives, he added.


    Several Experts and NGOs expressed "Deep Concern", as f;ex. DR M.C. Cornel of the "European Society of Human Genetics", which stressed, on this occasion, that "the importance of Non-Directiveness in Reproductive issues is a Central characteristic of Human Genetics, after the Atrocities committed in the name of Genetics in the first half or the 20th Century".

     - "This is completely Unacceptable", stressed Italian Liberal MEP Vittorio Prodi, on the Controversial Amendment, also because pushes to "eliminate early Human Life", as he noted.

     - "This opens a Dangerous Road, rather a Motorway", denounced Danish MEP Mrs Margrette Auken, from the "Greens", observing that various similar attempts were made in the Past "not only in Germany, but also in several other Countries, "even at the 1970ies", "f.ex. on forced Sterilisation of Roma" People, and other criticisable situations f.ex. in the UK, in Sweden, etc. as she said.

    + Other NGOs, as f.ex. "LebenHilfe" from Berlin, added that, among various other Risks, could also be that, by exploiting the pre-implantation Genetic Diagnostics and the Selection of "healthy" Embryos, some may "propagate" several "Eugenic" aims, starting f.ex. by pushing to eradicate Human Livies which might "Cost too much" to preserve, ultimately exposing to dangers reminiscent of the "3rd Reich"'s atrocious abuses.

    In consequence, ChristianDemocrats/EPP and "Green" MEPs "decided by Majority to vote against" this Controversial Amendment, anounced to Journalists the 5 MEPs who participated in the Press Conference, representing a wide spectrum, from Liberals to "Greens" and ChristianDemocrats, and from Hungary, Italy, Germany and Danemark up to Ireland (Gay Mitchell), etc.
----------------------------------
    Hungarian ChristianDemocrat MEP Laszlo Surjan said "that it was "Suddenly, at the End of the Procedure" in Committee, that "appeared this (Controversial) Amendment, which has nothing to do" with the main purpose of the Report, on which all agreed.

    He denounced an "Unhonest" move, and called to "avoid this kind of unacceptable situations". Nobody should "Select People", Surjan stressed.

    - "We (MEPs) had No Chance to Discuss" this last-minute Amendment earlier added at a Committee's level, said German MEP Peter Liese

    Speaking to "EuroFora", Dr. Liese, the Spokesman of the ChristianDemocrat/EPP Group in EU Parliament, said that MEPs didn't oppose other references of the Report f.ex. on "Genetic Tests", because they were "no proposals" to impose them, while, on the contrary, there was "a Problem" if anyone attempted to "impose" f.ex. this or that Genetic Technique and "Genetic Counselling", etc. to the People on human reproduction.
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The precise Text :
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    Controversial parts of Amendment No 15 ask mainly "to lead finally to the Eradication" of "Hereditary" "rare diseases", "through Genetic Counselling .., and ..pre-Implantation Selection of healthy Embryos".

    But  EU Rapporteur Professor Trakatellis, said to "EuroFora" that fears should be alleviated by Guarantees that all this should be done only "where appropriate", when it's "not contrary to existing National Law", and "always on a Voluntary basis", according to other Parts of the Amendment.

    He stressed that the main aim was to allow "a free and informed choice of persons involved", without imposing them anything :  - "It's not an obligatory, but advisary" text, he said.

    To make that point clear, he was ready, in agreement with many MEPs, to eventually drop at least that part of the controversial Amendment which initially called for "efforts to ..lead finally to the Eradication of those rare diseases" "which are Hereditary".

    But, until late Wednesday evening, reportedly together with many other MEPs, he stood by all the rest of the controversial Amendment, (fex. on the "Genetic Counselling" and the "pre-implantation Selection of healthy Embryos"), so that critical MEPs, going from ChristianDemocrats as Dr. Liese, to "Greens" or "Ind/Dem", observed to "EuroFora" that "this was not enough" to close the dangerous loophole.

    Particularly since, as Professor Trakatellis noted himself, "this is already allowed to the U.K.", and "other National Legislations would probably follow, sooner or later" in a similar direction. As for a general call to "Eradicate Hereditary rare Diseases", this "should happen, at any case, in practice, de facto", to protect public Health.

    On the contrary, "our goal should be to help patients suffering from rare diseases, not to eradicate the patients. In case of genetic disease risk, the decision should not be guided by scenarios" made by politicians. "Perents who may decide to accept a child, even if handicapped or with genetic disease, must be respected and supported with solidarity", critical MEPs stated.

    - "Any Pressure" to "a patient or couple (who "should be able to make an informed choice consistent with their own values"),"from health Professionals, Public Health Policies or Governemental Institutions, or Society at large, should be avoided", stresses the "European Society for Human Genetics".

----------------------------------

Each MEP's vote will be registered !

-----------------------------------   

The Socialist Group requested a "Split vote" on the Amendment 15, first without, and afterwards with the words "lead finally to the Eradication" etc.


    But the first "split vote" leaves intact all the other parts of the Controversial Amendment, (i.e. "Genetic Counselling", "Selection of healthy Embryos", etc).

    That's why, 3 Groups of MEPs : ChristianDemocrats/EPP, "Greens/EFA", and "Ind/Dem", have asked for "Roll Call Votes", on everything regarding the Controversial Amendment No 15, and on the final outcome of the resulting Report as amended, which will register all the individual positions to be taken by each MEP.   

Something which will obviously make each MEP think twice before voting for one or another choice, to be sure that he/she will make the right choice in front of EU Citizens, particularly at these pre-Election times...


    Crucial Votes were scheduled between 12 Noon and 1 p.m. local Strasbourg time, in the middle of a long series of various other Reports, and after a long Public Debate on the larger Health policy package, from 9 to 11.50 am.

    The specific Report inside which was hidden the controversial Amendment is due to be debated between 11 and 12 am.

    So that more last-minute Surprises may not be excluded a priori...

    Particularly at the present Historic moment, when even the Institutional Future of the EU depends on the result of a second Referendum on "Lisbon Treaty", later this year, in ...Ireland, a mainly Catholic country, where People are particularly sensitive in such kind of socio-cultural and values issues...
 

      ***     
 
     (Draft due to be updated).
 
***

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