Athletics Canada's athlete council backs doping fight

Top Canadian track and field athletes are speaking out in an attempt to stop doping at home and abroad.

The Athletics Canada Athlete's Council, a 10-person group of Canadian track and field athletes, released a statement Thursday. It urges the IAAF, along with national bodies around the world, to implement reforms, which would prevent bribery, cover-ups and systematic doping in the future.

The sport of track and field was rocked by recent reports of state-sponsored doping in Russia and top IAAF officials who refused to do anything about it. The accusations went all the way to top, naming Russian President Vladimiar Putin and former IAAF head Lamine Diack.

"The very heart of our sport lies in its pureness and integrity, which are now being jeopardized by the very same people who were responsible to uphold those basic principles," reads the statement from the Athletics Canada Athlete's Council.

It continues by thanking Russian couple Yuliya and Vitaly Stepanov for coming forward as whistleblowers in the doping scandal, a story CBC featured with an exclusive interview. 

"Sitting idly by, aware of any doping that may be going on, is not an option and is, in fact, destructive to our sport," the statement said. 

"[We] don't want anyone to feel they have to hide," said Canadian hepathlete Jillian Drouin, who along with race walker Inaki Gomez, signed the statement. The athletes "need to feel safe and represented," she added. 

Drouin hopes the council's statement will help other athletes feel they can come forward with knowledge they have about doping.

"I think Canada has done quite a bit in recent decades," said Drouin, who is the sister of high jump world champion Derek Drouin. "I think it's never going to be fully enough. I think there's always more that can be done."

The Athletes' Council wants national federations to place a greater emphasis on hiring coaches with clean records, and ban those with past history of doping. They also want more transparency from the IAAF in how their money is being spent.

With the Olympics less than eight months away, the sport of track and field is in the midst of a rough patch. Much of the focus seems to be on corruption and doping, rather than the athletes who will be competing.

'Nothing good comes from hiding your history'

The statement from the Canadian athletes openly acknowledges the damage Ben Johnson's positive test at the 1988 Seoul Olympics had on the public's perception of the sport in Canada.

While it's rare to hear Athletics Canada or its athletes discuss past scandals without being provoked, Drouin said it was important to make the connection.

"Nothing good comes from hiding your history," explained Drouin. "We wanted to be forefront and honest."

She's urging her teammates to come forward if they know of any potential doping violations. "They should be free to come to us." 

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