A new anti-doping regime will have all members of the Canadian Olympic team undergo tests ahead of the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, with any drug cheat facing the additional stress of a new snitch line.
The Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport has received $1-million in extra funding from the federal government and the Canadian Olympic Committee to try and ensure the Olympic team in February will be drug-free. The new testing regime is more stringent than the one in place ahead of previous Games, when not all athletes were tested and in which blood or urine samples were collected over a longer period.
CCES president Paul Melia said the goal of the new program is not to ensure that Canadian athletes pass their anti-doping tests during the Olympics, but rather to prevent cheats from making the trip to Russia all together. With the new funding, CCES will be able to conduct tests ahead of pre-Games competitions or on training days, whether athletes are in Canada or abroad.
"This is not about testing athletes as they get on the plane to make sure they don't get caught," Melia said in an interview. "This is not controlled doping, it's doping control."
The new anonymous phone line (1-800-710-CCES) will help athletes and others to denounce drug cheats, which could lead to investigations by the non-profit agency that manages the Canadian Anti-Doping Program.
"I hope that [those] who witness doping, those who think that they are surrounded by cheaters in their own country, those who were second to a doper, would use this hotline, would feel sufficiently secure and confidant that we will do something to give them a chance to say what they have to say," anti-doping expert Christiane Ayotte said.
Lorraine Lafrenière, who is set to become the chief executive officer of the Coaching Association of Canada, has said in the past that she received doping allegations from athletes, which she relayed to appropriate authorities. She praised the new anonymous hotline Tuesday for removing the "intimidation factor" from the denunciation process.
The funding marks the first time the COC is investing in anti-doping measures with the CCES ahead of a Games. The organization's president, Marcel Aubut, said he was shocked into action by recent doping scandals in Australia and the United States.
"That is why today, we are choosing to lead by example and teach our youth that fair and ethical is the only way to win," he said. "Our goal is clear: eliminate doping."
A retired skier added the new anti-doping regime is essential to "levelling the playing field for all athletes."
"I sincerely believe that days like today change the culture of sport for the better," two-time Olympian Ryan Semple said.