Reporting Office Against Abuse: Swiss sport is becoming a global role model

Ariella Kasslin at the European Championships in Berlin 2011. Bild: AP

Reporting Office Against Abuse: Swiss sport is becoming a global role model

The Swiss international organization plans to create a fully independent investigation and sanction body on January 1, 2022. This should take a leading role in dealing with ethical violations in sport around the world.

Rainer Somerhalder / Switzerland, weekend

The scandal surrounding the abusive behavior of coaches at the Swiss Gymnastics Federation shocked the public last summer and lured politicians out of their reserves. The National Assembly and Council of States unanimously called for the creation of a center for reporting violations in sport.

Sports Minister Viola Amherd put additional pressure on the project and demanded that the project be implemented by January 1, 2022. A bold timetable, because countries like Australia, Canada or Finland, which are already familiar with such a system, need four to five years to develop and share.

The Swiss Olympic Games, the Swiss university organization, may not always seem happy about gymnastics events. On the one hand, to have an ethical charter that is valid for all sporting organizations, and on the other hand, it does not have a real role if it is not adhered to.

The new registry office must be in Antidoping Switzerland

In fact, the Swiss Olympian was well aware of this situation long before sports gymnastics and artistic gymnastics were revealed. However, the order given eight years ago to some 80 affiliated national sports federations to develop a code of conduct and report on their sport was not satisfactorily implemented everywhere. This was demonstrated by three external analyzes commissioned by the Swiss Olympic company in the spring of 2020. The path to a solution was thus through sports long before the match, regardless of current events.

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Now the plan is on the table. In developing the Swiss model, the few solutions found in other countries were adhered to, on the one hand, and the integrity structures of model global sports federations such as Athletics and the Python, which had recently provided similar solutions, on the other hand.

A constantly chosen approach to independence increases credibility and makes Swiss sport a world leader in this field, experts in this field have emphasized. As with similar examples, the aim is to link the Ethical Issues Reporting Office with the existing structure at Antidoping Switzerland. The name for the fully independent organization should be Swiss Sport Integrity.

All ethical violations reports must be gathered here, processed and arranged by professional experts. Criminal related crimes are referred to the judiciary, in case of mismanagement or violation of the integrity of sport, an investigation is opened and a request for punishment is submitted. Cases that are not morally relevant are dismissed or sent to the professional union for treatment. The notifying office can take temporary measures against persons.

The Disciplinary Chamber of independent attorneys based on the tried and tested model of the Disciplinary Chamber for Doping Cases is responsible for examining these investigation reports from the perspective of sports law.

Sanctions against persons or organizations

It conducts a hearing, can impose sanctions and make binding recommendations. Since grievance is often not resolved by removing fallible people, structural changes are often required. Judgments of the disciplinary chamber can be appealed at the CAS International Sports Court in Lausanne.

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The main advantage of this solution is the practice of standardized penalties. Associations are exempt from the obligation to establish their own reporting offices, ethics committees and judicial authorities. Many associations are unhappy with relinquishing this responsibility and providing resources. Under the leadership of the Swiss Olympic, together with Magglingen training structures, they are responsible for the field of prevention.

In terms of independence, the Swiss model goes far beyond those from Australia, Canada, and Finland. Sport Integrity Australia, launched on 1 July 2020, is subject to state influence, the Canadian Center for Sport Ethics does not yet have the power to sanction, and in Finnish jurisdiction it is again delegated to individual federations.

People from Austria, the Netherlands or Norway view Switzerland with great interest. In these countries, too, the creation of codes of conduct and reporting offices in sports is on the agenda.

Stefan Nitzel penned the code of ethics

First of all, Antidoping Switzerland’s Board of Trustees has to approve the new structure. Apart from this, the new code of ethics will be presented to sport federations at the Swiss Olympic Forum on May 5 and 6 and the consultation process will begin. Swiss sports federations must amend their regulations so that all athletes, coaches and officials will be subject to the new procedures and disciplines.

Former world and Olympic rower Stefan Nitzel, international sports lawyer and long-time judge at the Sports Court in Lausanne, drafted the regulations on the basis of the mandate. Netzle has been at the forefront of various associations in developing and providing ethical guidelines.

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There is still difficult and tedious detail work awaiting the legal experts until the final version. The Sports Parliament is set to adopt the first unified code of ethics for Swiss sport on November 26. (aargauerzeitung.ch)

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