CISM strengthens its fight against doping


Published on 02 June 2008

As a sports physician commissioned to write a piece on my specialty, it would be far more gratifying to discuss the impact of physical and sport exertion on brain activity – a field that is as modern as it is fascinating – or the genetic causes of tendinopathies of the Achilles tendon, to mention but a couple of specific and narrow issues, than to address doping, admittedly a fashionable theme among the media but also one that is ultimately as negative as it is pathetic.

However, practice and – to a degree – topicality forces this unpleasant choice upon us.

CISM is fully committed to the anti-doping struggle fought at world sport level, and was one of the first international federations to join the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
CISM has entrusted logistical responsibility for its anti-doping activities to its Sports Medicine Commission.

Within the limits of its (modest) means, CISM spares no effort to implement and enforce the overarching anti-doping rules contained in the WADA Code. It has enacted its own anti-doping rules, subsequently approved by WADA and presently under review for full compliance with the Agency’s new Code. It urges championship organizers of conduct tests – which need to be performed according to the rulebook, preferably by professionals who are available within national civilian sport movement (umbrella sport organizations, national Olympic committees, etc.). Naturally, CISM demands that analyses be performed by accredited laboratories and that results be processed diligently and accurately, in particular when it comes to the transmission of data to Brussels. It keeps detailed statistics about tests, results (especially when positive!), and deviations from quantitative testing requirements – which vary in the different sports – and other relevant quantitative data. It manages positive test results, conducts hearings of athletes who petition for an audience through an independent Discipline Commission, and takes sanctions. In conducting the above activities, it cooperates closely with the relevant civilian international sport federation, since athletes who are sanctioned by CISM also normally have to be by the corresponding civilian organization. This mutual recognition is both very specific to CISM and very important – and an area where practical improvements are also needed. Finally, CISM does not have internal remedy procedures against the rulings of its Discipline Commission but a means of redress is available to disciplined athletes with the Court for Arbitration on Sport, which enjoys full CISM recognition.

What CISM does not do – and needs to review in the context of full WADA recognition – is have a scheme in place to perform tests outside competitions; so far, we delegate this task to the Member Nations because in practice, they alone know the location of their military athletes at all times (in high-level civilian sport, athletes have to disclose their place of residence on a daily basis in order to allow performance of unannounced tests!). Another thing CISM does not do is offer a centralized TUE (Therapeutic Use Exemption) scheme for athletes who for medical reasons need to take substances that are on the list of prohibited substances and methods. As in the previous case, it is easier and more efficient in practice to delegate this responsibility to the Member Nations. There is unfortunately one last shortcoming that CISM has to own up to: the lack of a prevention programme. However, in this area too, we have so far held the position that – if for no other reason than languages – it is undeniably easier and more effective to entrust this task to individual Member Nations.

The Sport Medicine Commission is in the process of adjusting the CISM anti-doping regulations to WADA requirements in close cooperation with the specialized services of the Agency. Because something needs to be done. Indeed, we are unfortunately faced on a regular basis with positive test results, which are systematically confirmed by B-sample analyses when requested. This is how in 2007, two athletes tested positive – both during the Military World Games. The table below presents positive testing statistics since 2000. Moreover, the cases regularly involve substances whose use could not possibly be construed as routine medical treatment, compulsory notification of which the athletes might simply have overlooked.

As already mentioned several times, the quality of anti-doping initiatives within CISM can roughly be equated to the sum total of the efforts of its Member Nations. It would be to the advantage of these countries to rely on the solid civilian structures that exist in most of them to meet the exacting standards imposed by WADA and the sports movement in general. Not only will close cooperation with existing competent bodies ensure that an efficient prevention and testing system is in place, it will also guarantee the attendant availability of significant financial support in a rather cumbersome system, financially speaking.

Regardless of the solution that is ultimately chosen, CISM can ill-afford to relax its contribution to the fight against one of the worst evils plaguing contemporary competitive sport, at the risk of losing face and the recognition and potential support it needs – like all fully-fledged international organizations.


  • The Athlete Learning Program about Health and Anti-Doping (ALPHA) aims to reduce doping behavior amongst athletes who are already doping, or prevent other athletes from doing so at all. If the intention of the learner was not to dope, the tool provides all the necessary information for an athlete and reinforces the protective factors. More information here.



  • Under the World Anti-Doping Code (Code) — the document harmonizing anti-doping policies in all sports and all countries — WADA has an obligation to coordinate anti-doping activities and to provide a mechanism to assist stakeholders with their implementation of the Code. The Anti-Doping Administration & Management System (ADAMS) was developed for this purpose. It is a Web-based database management system that simplifies the daily activities of all stakeholders and athletes involved in the anti-doping system. More info here. To create your account, please contact Lieutenant-Commander (Navy) Osvaldo Raimundo Pinheiro de Souza.