The meeting, held at UNESCO Headquarters, was opened in the presence of Mr Musa Bin Jaafar Bin Hassan, President of UNESCO’s General Conference; Mr Phillip Craven, President of the International Paralympic Committee; Mr Jean-François Lamour, French Minister for Youth, Sports and Associations and vice Chair of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA); Mr Vyacheslav Fetisov, UNESCO Champion for Sport and Head of the Russian Federal Agency for Physical Culture and Sport; and two representatives of Mr Adolf Ogi, Special Assistant to United Nations Secretary General on Sport for Peace and Development, and of Mr Joseph S. Blatter, President of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). Numerous sport ministers also attended the meeting. A message by Belgian tennis player Justine Hénin, who is also a UNESCO Champion for the fight against doping in sport, was screened at the end of the opening ceremony.
“The Convention represents the first time that governments around the world have decided to apply the force of international law against doping in sport. It provides the much-needed framework for implementing the World Anti-Doping Code and for formalizing global anti-doping rules, policies and guidelines. It is a major step forward in the fight to make sport doping-free”, declared the Director-General.
Noting with satisfaction that no less than 41 States Parties were participating in the Conference, Mr Matsuura outlined some of the decisive issues to be addressed, including the adoption of a plan for the use of the resources of the Voluntary Fund for the elimination of doping in sport; approval and changes to the 2007 prohibited list of substances and methods of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA); and the establishment of an effective and efficient follow-up mechanism for the Convention.
“The entry into force of the Convention certainly does not signify the end of UNESCO’s work in this area. Instead, it marks the moment when our attention will shift away from normative work towards the challenges of implementation”, emphasised the Director-General. Mr Matsuura, in this context, described the need to raise public awareness and to invest in prevention through education programmes. “UNESCO is deeply committed to protecting young athletes and promoting sport ethics. It is my belief that this Convention not only fills a normative void that needed to be dealt with urgently. It also calls for the redoubling of efforts to strengthen ethics, personal responsibility and integrity. Doping in sport does much to destroy fair competition and the fundamental values underpinning physical education and sport. This poses a threat not just to sport itself, but to society as a whole. It demands a concerted response. It calls in particular for better education”, he noted.
Finally, Mr Matsuura strongly encouraged those Member States who did not ratify the Convention to take the necessary measures to do so: “All governments have a duty to complete this task (…). The Convention provides the framework for this to take place. However, it needs the forceful application by governments to ensure that these are not simply words without actions. I implore you to give all that you can to this task. If we continue to work at the sustained pace we have adopted, we can ensure that future generations are able to enjoy and excel in doping-free sport”, he advocated.
Author(s): Office of the Spokeswoman - Source: Flash Info N° 014-2007 - Publication Date: 06-02-2007