June 12, 2015 – Today, the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES) confirms that the Canadian Football League (CFL), taking issue with comments by Dr. Christiane Ayotte, the Scientific Director of Canada’s anti-doping lab, will no longer contract the CCES as the anti-doping service provider to the league.
The CCES began its relationship with the CFL in 2008. Our interest was driven by a desire to protect the health and safety of CFL players through effective anti-doping measures. The CCES also recognized that the lack of an anti-doping program within the CFL could have far-reaching negative impacts on the youth who participate in football in Canada, including our university and college student athletes.
Seven years later, it is the view of the CCES that in comparison to other North American professional leagues (including the recent program put in place by the Ultimate Fighting Championship – UFC) and especially when compared with the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code (Code), the CFL anti-doping program has become outdated. Despite our best efforts with both the CFL and its players’ association (CFLPA) to suggest improvements for their consideration, the CFL/CFLPA Policy is no longer contemporary.
During the course of our work together, it has always been the CCES’ belief that the CFL policy could be improved and move closer to other World Anti-Doping Code-compliant professional sports such as soccer, rugby and tennis. Earlier this week, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) also stated that the CFL anti-doping program had room for improvement. Yet, even if not Code compliant, it is widely accepted that a sound anti-doping policy must have at least three fundamental elements: meaningful sanctions for first violations; mandatory public disclosure for those who violate the policy; and a transparent results management process.
The CFL/CFLPA Anti-Doping Policy is printed on its website (https://cfl.ca/uploads/assets/CFL/PDF_Docs/CFL_CFLPA_Drug_Policy.pdf) and none of the elements described above are currently evident. By contrast, university football players in Canada are subject to those three elements as they are rightly held to the much higher standard of the World Anti-Doping Code, as part of the Canadian Anti-Doping Program.
The CFL has a rich history in Canadian sport. The CCES believes the integrity of the CFL could be negatively affected by the doping issue. Notwithstanding the CFL’s decision announced yesterday, as a global leader in the fight against doping in sport and Canada’s acknowledged experts in anti-doping, the CCES remains willing, if called upon, to assist the CFL in developing and delivering an effective anti-doping program in the interest of the integrity of sport, and the health and safety of the athletes in the CFL.
The CCES is an independent, national, not-for profit organization with a responsibility to administer the CADP. Under the CADP rules, the CCES announces publicly every anti-doping rule violation. We recognize that true sport can make a great difference for individuals, communities and our country. We are committed to working collaboratively to activate a values-based and principle-driven sport system; protecting the integrity of sport from the negative forces of doping and other unethical threats; and advocating for sport that is fair, safe and open to everyone.