Sports—Anti-doping Regulations

Hon. Jim Munson: Mr. Leader, I have a question submitted by Mr. Lucas Wilson of Toronto, Ontario, through our “Your Question Period” initiative. Mr. Wilson writes:

Doping continues to be a major problem in amateur and professional sports. Even with thorough drug-testing regimes, athletes are often able to evade getting caught for long periods of time.

Greater penalties for athletes and coaches should be available — including, in the most serious cases, criminal sanction. Germany is proposing such measures.

Mr. Lucas Wilson asks:

Is the Canadian government doing anything on this important issue?

[Translation]

Hon. Claude Carignan (Leader of the Government): Senator, as you know, amateur sport is governed by various organizations, including the associations and federations for each individual or team sport, all under the umbrella of the Canadian Olympic Association, which, in turn, is a member of the International Olympic Committee. That committee cooperates with an international anti-doping association, which, if I’m not mistaken, is headquartered here in Canada. That association enforces the rules regarding doping. We have every confidence that those centres of expertise can identify the best ways to deal with doping in amateur and Olympic sports.

[English]

Senator Munson: I want to thank you for your answer, Mr. Leader, but Mr. Wilson is correct that doping remains a major problem. We saw that in January 2013, when Lance Armstrong, the famed American road-racing cyclist admitted publicly to doping.

Of course, our country has its own experience with high-profile doping cases. I was there in 1988 in Seoul when Ben Johnson was disgraced when he ran the 100-metre race and was found to have a lot of drugs in his body, and tested positive for a banned substance. We had the Dubin Inquiry.

I think Mr. Wilson wants to make sure that you’re confident that Canadian regulations are stringent enough, given the upcoming Pan Am and Parapan Am Games in Toronto next year.

[Translation]

Senator Carignan: Honourable senator, as I said, it is the responsibility of the amateur and Olympic sports organizations, both Canadian and international, to adopt strict rules and to ensure compliance with those rules. We do our best to promote healthy living. I would like to commend the work done by our colleague, the Honourable Nancy Greene Raine, regarding National Health and Fitness Day, which I think is a worthwhile cause, as it will encourage Canadians to participate in healthy sports activities.

[English]

Senator Munson: What, if anything, is the Canadian government’s oversight role? You’re a partner in all this. We’re all partners in this. This country was disgraced back in 1988 over what happened in Seoul, South Korea.

What is the government’s role? Do you work closely? Are you part of the process? You talked about the expertise and different organizations that have tight drug regimes. What does this government do in this capacity?

[Translation]

Senator Carignan: Senator, our government supports sports organizations, associations and federations, as well as the Canadian Olympic Association. It also supports athletes by allocating various funding envelopes either directly to athletes or to the associations. The associations are mandated to adopt the rules and regulations necessary to discipline their members and to adhere to national and international anti-doping regulations.