University athletes must waive privacy to play

Canadian university students who want to play sports such as football and hockey will be required this fall to waive their right to privacy if their names are uncovered by law enforcement authorities during drug busts.

Under the current legal landscape, when law enforcement staff seize steroids and other banned substances that are being smuggled into Canada at border points or through the mail, the Canada Border Services Agency is typically not allowed to disclose information to the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport about who has ordered the drugs because of privacy legislation.

The privacy laws handicap the CCES in its investigations, staff say.

TSN has learned that the CIS’s board has unanimously endorsed a request from CCES chief executive Paul Melia that some university athletes be required to sign a waiver that would allow law enforcement officials to disclose their identities if they are discovered to be involved with importing banned substances.

The CIS’s 11-member board approved the motion unanimously, CIS executive director Pierre Lafontaine told TSN.

CCES chief executive Paul Melia said the consent waivers are just one of the ways the CCES is trying to improve its policing of drug use in Canadian sport.

The CCES also has two full-time staffers recently dedicated to intelligence gathering, has purchased computer software to cross-reference the names of athletes on other information databases, and has requested briefings with anti-doping authorities in the U.K. and Australia, asking how they manage their own investigations.

Melia said the CCES has also started to ask Canadian universities for information such as speed and strength test data. Player sprint times and bench press results might tip authorities off to drug use, if the results improve appreciably from one year to the next.

Melia said having athletes sign a consent agreement would help his staff gather information about steroid trafficking far more quickly.

“If there is a seizure at the border by CBSA and they lay charges and there is a conviction then the names of those convicted will become public,” he said. “In many instances, though, seizures are made and charges not necessarily laid. More important, the seizures often also include client lists, distribution lists and destination points for distribution, all of which would be of enormous interest to the CCES.

“Similarly, the police might conduct a drug bust and only pursue charges against certain individuals and their activities related to the so-called hard drugs like heroin and ecstasy even though steroids and human growth hormone might have been involved. Again, computer lists of names, clients, customers might be part of what is seized but not available to us under the current conditions.”

Athletes who compete in Olympic and Paralympic sports already are being given the consent agreements to sign.

The agreement, part of the 2015 Canadian Anti-Doping Program, reads: “I consent to having police and law enforcement agencies, border services agencies, Sport Organizations of which I am a member and sporting clubs and athletic associations to which I belong, in Canada and elsewhere, disclose my personal information to the CCES to assist the CCES in the enforcement of the CADP. For the purpose of this consent, the term ‘personal information’ means information relating to an identifiable individual that is recorded in any form.”

Melia said he’s not looking immediately to secure the consent of every Canadian university athlete.

“We have to balance the cost and practicality of securing athlete consent,” Melia told TSN. “We will certainly be focusing on the high risk sports and football is at the top of the list…we will certainly be looking at hockey carefully.”

Melia said that while the signed consents would allow CCES to have conversations with law enforcement agencies, including border service, there’s no legal framework that would compel those agencies to assist the CCES.

The CCES and CIS have been discussing the consent form for athletes weeks after police in Alberta seized nearly $10 million worth of steroids in a string of raids at five locations in Edmonton.

At that time, police confirmed the CCES was investigating whether those steroid dealers sold banned performance-enhancing drugs to professional or amateur athletes across the country.

Four people were arrested in what authorities say is the biggest illegal steroid seizure ever by Canadian police, who took into custody 350,000 tablets, 10,500 vials and 124 kilograms worth of raw steroid powder.

Police have not presented evidence that any college or university athletes bought illegal steroids from the Edmonton criminal ring and in Canada, it is not illegal to possess steroids, but it is illegal to import them or possess them for the purpose of trafficking.

The Edmonton bust came months after three top Canadian college football prospects tested positive for banned performance-enhancing drugs at a CFL-sanctioned training camp.

Critics have called college football in Canada a “Wild West” where players game the system without fear of being caught. That’s because there are 11,000 athletes competing in Canadian university sports, but only enough money to administer 200 drug tests per year.

In 2010, the University of Waterloo suspended its football program after a wave of players were discovered using steroids. There was a brief period when drug testing across Canada increased, but it has since reversed course.

http://www.tsn.ca/talent/westhead-canadian-university-athletes-must-waive-privacy-to-play-cis-1.119243

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