In a highly competitive sporting environment, athletes and their support personnel are under increasing pressure to win. As a result, they may be tempted to use performance enhancing substances and methods. This phenomenon is not limited to elite athletes; young people and amateur sports enthusiasts too are being drawn into doping. Doping is a public health issue. It jeopardizes the values, ethics and integrity of sport; and the health of those involved in it.
In light of its mandate on education and commitment to the fundamental values underpinning sport, UNESCO has been deeply concerned about the erosion of ethics and the inequity created by the use of performance-enhancing drugs by athletes.
Following the Third International Conference of Ministers and Senior Officials Responsible for Physical Education and Sport (MINEPS III - Punta del Este, Uruguay, 1999) and a Ministerial Round Table held at UNESCO in January 2003, the International Convention against Doping in Sport, drafted after consultations and meetings among representatives of nearly 100 countries, was adopted on 19 October 2005.
Entered into force on 1 February 2007 – becoming the most successful convention in the history of UNESCO in terms of the rhythm of ratification after adoption – the Anti-Doping Convention is now the second most ratified of all UNESCO treaties, with 191 States Parties.
The Convention helps to harmonize anti-doping legislation, guidelines, regulations, and rules internationally in order to provide a fair and equitable playing environment for all athletes.
There is a degree of flexibility as to how governments can give effect to the Convention, either by way of legislation, regulation, policies, or administrative practices. However, States Parties commit to:
- encourage international cooperation to protect athletes and the ethics of sport;
- limit the availability of prohibited substances and methods by combating trafficking;
- facilitate doping controls and support national testing programmes;
- encourage producers and distributors of nutritional supplements to establish ‘best practice’ in the labelling, marketing, and distribution of products which might contain prohibited substances;
- support the implementation of anti-doping education programmes; and
- promote anti-doping research.
The Convention provides an assistance mechanism for States Parties to design and implement specific anti-doping capacity-building, education, and policy projects through the Fund for the Elimination of Doping in Sport.
It also helps to ensure the effectiveness of the World Anti-Doping Code (the Code). As the Code is a non-governmental document that applies only to sports organizations, the Convention provides the legal framework under which governments can address specific areas.
UNESCO’s mission is to ensure the mainstreaming of values and a rights-based approach that ensure a clean, honest and equitable environment through a three-dimensional strategy:
- International cooperation: UNESCO is actively involved in international efforts to protect ethics, integrity and values while combating doping in sport, specifically through the implementation of the International Convention against Doping in Sport.
- Education: UNESCO develops anti-doping education and prevention programmes fostering fundamental sport values and informing young people of moral, legal and health consequences of doping.
- Capacity-building: UNESCO assists governments to develop national anti-doping programmes and provides advice on the implementation of the Convention. It also supports research efforts to expand the evidence base feeding into anti-doping policies, particularly in the areas of trafficking, nutritional supplements and health consequences of doping.
- Operational Guidelines and Framework for the strengthening of the implementation of the Convention, also available in French
- Full text of the Convention
- Evaluation of UNESCO's International Convention against Doping in Sport (2017)
- Brochure: Supporting Public Authorities to Protect the Integrity and Values of Sport. International Convention against Doping in Sport and the Fund for the Elimination of Doping in Sport