Irish kickboxing Champion Caradh O’Donovan is one of the leading figures in the new Global Athlete movement who launched their website yesterday.
The organisation was unveiled in February and is aimed at offering ‘a voice’ to Olympic and Paralympic athletes around the world who have grown frustrated at a failure to fully get to grips with doping and cheating.
O’Donovan is listed on the site alongside British Olympic track cyclist Calum Skinner, Para Powerlifter Ali Jawad who secured a high profile on Team GB at the last Paralympic Games, and Olympians Noah Hoffman and Rachel Sporn in skiing and Basketball.
“I’ve always believed that athletes should be a central part of decision making in sport, so I’m delighted to be joining the drive for positive change,” says O’Donovan on the site.
According to the website introduction “Throughout 2019, Global Athlete will be carrying out an extensive “listening exercise” to discover what athletes want. Importantly, this will be done with athletes of all sports and all countries centred around the Olympic and Paralympic movement.”
“Athletes are the ones competing on the field, in the pool or on the track every day. They should be given a real say on the future of sport. If you consider yourself an athlete that wants to have a real say, then join the Movement today.”
Global Athlete is being fronted by the athletes but Rob Koehler, who abruptly left WADA as Deputy Director-general last summer is going to be the main executive responsible for gaining traction.
The organisation is funded by an independent, not for profit organisation called Fair Sport, based out of the US and created by financiers, lawyers and social entrepreneurs to, in its own words, ‘help confidential sources expose cheating by guiding and protecting them through every aspect of the process.’
It will be interesting to see how the organisation grows and develops, and how quickly it will attract the highest profile of athletes to its banner.
Athletes tend to be naturally self-absorbed, particularly in the run-up to an Olympic Games, so part of the challenge will be to break through their bubble to do something for what they will be persuaded will be the common good.
Care will need to be taken as well over the vetting of those who do come on board, that they are pure clean, but also not to cast a shadow over those who don’t, for whatever reason.
It’s a tough arena to step into but real change generally only comes about through genuine popular mass movements. Within the clean athlete community this could be that.