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  • Global Athlete Midyear Update


    Dear Athletes,

    It has been an incredibly challenging time for athletes and their communities around the world. Global Athlete stands with athletes during this unprecedented time. Below is a recap of our activities and athlete activism over the first half of 2020.

    COVID-19 Pandemic

    The COVID-19 global pandemic has crippled international sport. Athletes have been unable to train or compete, and the financial and welfare impact have been immense.

    As sport rebuilds from this crisis, there is an opportunity to reshape sports governance to center athletes in all decisions. Global Athlete is committed to supporting athletes through this transition.

    This week, Global Athlete will be releasing a survey to all athletes on their opinions related to return to play. We will work to elevate the athlete voice and to give athletes an equal say in the decision-making process.

    Athlete Activism and the Collective Voice

    Over the past year athletes have been standing strong and standing together for change. Athlete activism is on the rise and it will be the single most important movement to bring about stronger athletes’ rights.

    Your voice matters!

    Athletes should never be silenced: 2020 started off with a New Year’s message from International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach warning athletes against any form of protests at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. After speaking with various athlete groups, Global Athlete released a statement indicating that silencing athletes should never be tolerated, and to threaten them with removal from the Olympic Games is another sign of the vast imbalance of power between sport leaders and athletes. This discrepancy is gaining more attention in light of recent events in the USA and subsequent protests worldwide. Athletes want to know why certain human rights are not available on the field of play and are calling out the hypocrisy of being silenced on the grounds of “keeping politics out of sport.”

    Athletes collective voice forced the Olympic Games Postponement (Due to Covid-19 Pandemic): In March 2020 Global Athlete worked collectively with athletes and athlete groups to push the IOC to make an immediate decision to postpone the Olympic Games. After weeks of athletes rallying together and making their stance clear in the media, the IOC finally announced the postponement of the 2020 Olympic Games.

    Athletes called for equal representation and demanded leadership change at the International Weightlifting Federation – As a result of the ARD Documentary “Secret Doping – The Lord of the Lifters” (This documentary exposed the alleged corruption in the sport which reinforced once again that sport leaders cannot self-regulate.)

    A joint call was issued by AthletesCAN, the British Athletes Commission, the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee Athletes’ Advisory Council, USA Weightlifting Athletes and Global Athlete to support an independent investigation. A call was also made for the IWF to change their sport by embracing collective and equal independent athlete representation.

    Global Athlete also collaborated with over 80 international weightlifting athletes from 14 countries from all continents to call on the IWF President, Tamas Ajan to stand down. The IWF President resigned on April 15.

    An independent investigation led by Richard McLaren published on June 4 revealed that over $10 million is unaccounted for, 40 doping positives were covered up, and vote-buying was rampant at the last two electoral congresses.

    On 5 June 2020 Global Athlete released a statement calling on the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) to implement independent athlete oversight as a result of the McLaren Independent Investigation.

    Athletes called for Open CAS Hearing for RUSADA proceedings: AthletesCAN, Athleten Deutschland, British Athletes Association, Denmark Athlete Commission, Norway Athlete Commission, United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee Athletes’ Advisory Council and Global Athlete called for an open and public hearing at the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS) into the RUSADA proceeding.

    Parties involved in the case refused such a request, and once again athletes’ calls for transparency were ignored.

    Every Athlete Matters - The case of Mark Dry: Global athlete released a statement calling for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) to appeal the disproportionate decision of UK Anti-Doping to ban Scottish hammer thrower Mark Dry for four years. Global Athlete continues to stand up and support Mark in his quest for justice.

    Independent Athlete Representation: We are seeing more athletes from several sports collectively joining together to establish independent international athlete associations that are not linked directly to sporting organizations. Global Athlete is committed to supporting and partnering with these organizations to strengthen the collective voice.

    Listen to Athletes and Athlete Groups: Global athlete continues to convene regular conference calls with athlete groups to discuss current and emerging issues.

    Research Supporting the need for more Athletes’ Rights

    IOC’s Revenue Distribution – The Status Quo is no Longer Acceptable:

    Global Athlete, in partnership with Ryerson University and the Ted Rogers School of Management, announced the results of a study on Olympic Commercialization and Player Compensation. Key outcomes of the study indicated:

    A mere 4.1% of revenues go directly from the IOC revenues to athletes.

    The future of the Olympic Movement must include the ability for athletes to collectively bargain.

    The IOC needs to prioritize athletes in its funding model over external and internal entities.

    The IOC and members of the Olympic Movement need to be more transparent in their financial reporting.

    Athlete Rights, Welfare and Representation: As a part of Global Athlete’s listening exercise, we released our first study on athlete rights, welfare, and representation. The survey, which engaged 491 athletes from 48 countries, representing all continents, and from 40 summer and 16 winter sports, indicates that:

    Athletes’ rights need to be enhanced

    Athletes need to be more appropriately compensated

    Athletes need collective independent representation

    Fear of retribution for speaking up is a top concern of athletes

    Para athletes need classification rules to be improved

    Athlete Perspective on the Anti-Doping System: Part II of our athlete survey provided feedback on national and international anti-doping programs. The results indicated:

    The majority of athletes feel that the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) does not work independently, while most have trust in the independence of their National Anti-Doping Organizations (NADOs).

    Athletes need more equal representation in WADA and NADOs.

    Return to Play Survey: As already indicated. in the coming days Global Athlete will release a ‘return to play’ survey to understand how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected athletes and what they need as they prepare to start back to their sport.

    Global Athlete continues to stay committed to listening to athletes and bringing truth to power in the interest of athlete rights. For more information on Global Athlete or to join the movement visit our website at

    Global Athletes has been asked to showcase some athlete activities in various countries. In this edition we are pleased to provide an update from AthletesCAN, Athleten Deutschland and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee Athletes' Advisory Council.

    Best regards,
    On behalf of the Global Athlete Start Up Group
    Rob Koehler,
    Director General

    Akwasi Frimpong
    Olympic Bobsleigh and Skeleton Athlete
    Noah Hoffman
    Olympic Cross-Country Skier
    United States of America Ali Jawad
    Olympic Para Powerlifter
    United Kingdom

    Caradh O’Donovan
    World Champion Kick Boxer and Karate
    Ireland Callum Skinner
    Olympic Cyclist
    United Kingdom

    Update from AthletesCAN

    Anti-Doping: AthletesCAN, in partnership with the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport, engaged the athlete voice in the 2021 Canadian Anti-Doping Program (CADP) consultation process through an athlete survey and an athlete focus group to provide important feedback on various elements of the CADP. Read More…
    Safe Sport: Using evidence based recommendations found in a recent Maltreatment Study, and through the 2019 National Athlete Safe Sport Summit, AthletesCAN has been advocating for the athlete voice in the future of safe sport in Canada through lobbying efforts and participation in the Universal Code of Conduct for the Prevention of Sport and Maltreatment working and leadership groups.

    Athlete Agreements: AthletesCAN has released a multi-phased Athlete Agreement project that works towards a standardized, mutually beneficial, and reciprocal agreement to foster the performance relationship between athlete and National Sport Organizations in Canada. The resources created at each phase of the project include:

    Phase I: The Future of Athlete Agreements in Canada position paper
    Phase II: Standardized Athlete Agreement Template
    Phase III:
    Athlete Commercial Agreement Template (pending release)
    Best practices and tools to support the implementation of the Standardized Athlete Agreement (in development)
    Read more…

    Update from Athleten Deutschland

    Nearly doubled membership base.
    Hired more staff: now working with a team of eight people.
    Substantially expanded service delivery to members: Free legal counseling and webinars to support athletes.
    Held a thorough consultation process on COVID-19 and implications for Olympic and Paralympic athletes.
    Grown to a well-respected stakeholder representing athlete interest in day-to-day committee work.
    Increased international network and coordination with other athlete groups.
    Successful individual case management regarding athlete grievances.

    Update from US Olympic and Paralympic Committee Athletes’ Advisory Council

    Received a budget increase and ability to hire full time staff. The hiring of Executive Director is in progress.
    Proposed and ratified USOPC bylaw changes that will result in:
    Direct election of athlete representatives to the USOPC board.
    Direct reappointment of athlete board representatives.
    33% athlete representation on USOPC Board.
    Addition of the 10-year plus category of athlete representation.
    AAC can now amend its own bylaws without USOPC approval.
    Internal National Governing Bodies (NGB) AAC will be part of NGB Compliance.
    Addition of NGB compliance standards in the bylaws and regular audits on these standards.
    Active role in athlete selection procedures and updates.
    Advocated for the relaxation of Olympic Charter Rule 40.
    OP Gold Parity (Equal prize money for Olympic and World Champs medals for Para Athletes.)
    Supported the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act.
    Proposed and obtained increased athlete mental health resources.
    Commenced an athlete listening project for ongoing athlete feedback to the USOPC.
    Comprehensive list of 10-year athletes in a database that allows reps to communicate with their athlete body directly.
    Advocated for the expansion of the Ombudsman Office.

    As a service to our readers, Around the Rings will provide verbatim texts of selected press releases issued by Olympic-related organizations, federations, businesses and sponsors.

    These press releases appear as sent to Around the Rings and are not edited for spelling, grammar or punctuation. 

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