By Adam Nelson, TFAA President
The past seven days have taken me to DC, Albuquerque and, now, to Florida. The TFAA is committed to pursuing and leading initiatives that enhance the profession of athletics in the United States and beyond. We’re doing this by filling a vital gap, including the athletes’ voice into the broader discussions that impacts and shapes policy affecting your sport & profession.
Most recently, I had the opportunity to give testimony to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce to draw attention to the issue surrounding doping in sport. The other witnesses included Michael Phelps, Travis Tygart — USADA, Rob Koehler — WADA, and Dr. Richard Budgett — IOC. Travis and Robert expressed the need to separate doping control from the business of sport, something that Dr. Budgett echoed in his own testimony. Dr. Budgett’s testimony marked a departure from the IOC’s previous position to maintain control, but further clarification suggests that the separation would be limited in scope. We will have to see how all this plays out.
Regardless of the posturing, I truly believe that any changes in policy will fall short of real improvement unless we — the athletes — insert our own voice into this equation. We are the ones who ultimately pay the greatest price for supporting clean sport. We should have a much stronger, independent voice in this conversation. In order to do that, we have to organize our thoughts and our efforts better. We need to educate ourselves on the issue and create our recommendations and solutions.
After the hearing, I took some time to record my thoughts on the day:
- Our Government Cares about Fair Play: 16 congressmen and women attended the hearing and several senators made time to meet with Travis, Michael and me during the remainder of our visit to the Capitol. This is a topic that is non-partisan in nature. The question is: How do we — the athletes support it?
- The Power of the U.S. Government: The U.S. Government does have limitations to its power. It can only indirectly influence the IOC and WADA through financial support or other lobbying efforts. However, these congressmen and women were very interested in moving the dial in a manner that improves the experience for the clean athlete. I believe that Michael, Travis and I connected with them on an emotional and logical level that we all hope will lead to more action for a clean sport.
- Next Steps: This is perhaps the most challenging aspect of this meeting. Without a clear path forward, we will lose the momentum that this powerful ally can create for us. To keep things moving the TFAA is looking at organizing a working group on anti-doping. This group will include athletes, independent experts and others to help identify the best path forward. The TFAA will share the research and findings of this working group with all the stakeholders in our sport.
How Can you Help?
The TFAA is currently working with the USATF-AAC to identify a group of athletes who wish to participate in a letter writing campaign to the congressmen and women serving on the subcommittee on Energy and Commerce that hosted the hearing. We need athletes to strongly support this. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the heading “OUR VOICE MATTERS” and a TFAA representative will follow up with you.
Thank you for reading this, and I hope to meet you or see you on the road!