International Federation Seminar brings anti-doping officers and athletes together for a discussion.
In early November, the city of Lausanne [also the home of the IOC headquarters] hosted a panel discussion and seminar under the theme of “Clean Sport: The Athlete’s Point of View”. The event brought together current and ex-athletes with anti-doping administrators from different international sport federations. We caught up with one of the panelists, Swiss athlete and U23 World Rowing Champion 2014, Augustin Maillefer, to learn a bit more about his views on anti-doping.
What are your views on the anti-doping programme of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)?
For me and my teammates, it is something normal. Anti-doping tests are a part of being an athlete today and I therefore consider it as one of my responsibilities. I get checked five or six times a year in and out of competition, so it is not something that puts my training at risk. I find this new regime of anti-doping to be very supportive of the clean athletes, as it makes sure that those who cheat are caught. If I knew I was competing against a doped athlete, it would discourage me from continuing, so it’s good to know WADA & World Rowing are keeping the sport clean.
How do you stay informed on the latest anti-doping programs by WADA & World Rowing?
Since being a young rower years ago, my coach and team managers were always informing and educating me and other athletes about the WADA programmes. It has not been difficult for me to keep up to date, also because the Swiss Anti-Doping organisation has made it easy for athletes in Switzerland to keep track of the newest information from WADA. For example, I have an application on my smartphone which allows me to input any medicine which I buy, and then it tells me whether or not there are prohibited substances in it.
Do you think the WADA rules are too strict?
Rules are rules and they are put in place to ensure a level playing field. When my coach told me when I was very young that I cannot start rowing until the starting gun goes off, there was no question about it. For me, doping is the same. These are rules which we have to abide by; rules that protect us and the sport. However, I think in some cases, like the “Whereabouts” system, there could be technologically advanced options of having the GPS function on the phone inform where we are at any given time. This would save time and also helps make sure that WADA is not misinformed, in the case when I forget, for example. I believe that the environment WADA is creating for athletes around the world is helping us compete in safe and fair conditions and so I am supporting them.
Augustin is in full preparation mode for the upcoming 2016 Olympics in Rio. After his Olympic debut in London two years ago, he is training hard to get a better result. Augustin is also pursuing a sport science degree at the University of Lausanne. We have no doubt we will be seeing more of Augustin in the future, as an athlete and perhaps in other roles in the sport world. Good luck!