Q&A with Dr Catherine OrdwayOctober 10, 2023
Associate Professor (Sport Management) and Sport Integrity Research Lead at University of Canberra, Catherine Ordway has worked in the field of anti-doping since the 1990s. We took a Q&A-interview with her.
Name:Dr Catherine Ordway
Title: Associate Professor (Sport Management) and Sport Integrity Research Lead
Where do you work and what do you do there?
University of Canberra – lecturer and researcher
How did you end up working in the field of anti-doping?
I started work in anti-doping in 1997 when I joined Browne & Co which was the legal firm providing legal services to the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC).
I represented the AOC in preparation for the Nagano 1998 Olympic Winter Games, the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, the Osaka 2001 East Asian Games and the Salt Lake City 2002 Olympic Winter Games.
I drafted the AOC submission to IOC World Conference on Doping (1999), and the Commonwealth Parliament inquiry, “Substance Abuse in Australian Communities: Drugs in Sport” (2000).
I contributed to developing the combined AOC and Australian Sports Commission anti-doping template.
I was responsible for amending most of the 32 National Federation (NSO) anti-doping policies on the Olympic program, in compliance with the relevant International Federation anti-doping policy and the Olympic Movement Anti-Doping Code (OMADC) [this was pre-WADA Code!].
I appeared in over thirty (30) anti-doping hearings before CAS or National Sports Dispute Centre, and drafted the resulting press releases.
I presented with Simon Rofe at the Big Bucks in Sports Law Seminar, NSW College of Law in 1998 on the Australian anti-doping policies.
An edited version of our paper was then published in The Law Society of South Australia Bulletin 20(10), Nov 1998 p16-19. I presented on “Drugs in Sport” at the 1998 Women in Sport: A Celebration International Conference, SA Office for Recreation & Sport in Adelaide.
I also had articles published on the “IOC World Conference on Doping” in the ANZSLA Commentator (1999) ISSN: 1444-3244 and on “Drugs in Sport” in the Sportswoman magazine (2000).
I was awarded the WADA Legal Paper Prize, Legal Requirements for Blood Testing – Oceania (submitted Dec 2001). My paper focused on the 14 Oceania countries recognised by the IOC. I examined the cultural and legal issues around blood testing. (Awarded at the WADA Conference, DEN, 2003)
What have happened in the field of Anti-Doping since you started?
A great deal! Everyone working in a legal role in anti-doping used to be able to go out for dinner on the 1 table – now there are more than 7000+ people who attend the WADA Symposium!
I started under the OMADC, and now we have WADA and several iterations of the WADC!
What is the biggest change since you started working in this field?
Much more athlete-centric; understanding that athletes are forever “Googleable” and that you cannot throw a standardised and harmonised “blanket” over every case. What I have seen change are calls for greater discretion and flexibility in choosing the breaches to follow up, how they are followed up and proportionate sanctioning.
In which direction do you want to see Anti-Doping go in the future?
Improving the balancing process above and importantly tackling how to deter, detect and sanction rogue States.
Who is winning the war on doping? And why? Are the doping hunters far behind the dopers?
This is an important change – we no longer use “war” and “hunting” language and that is an improvement.
Knowing that some athletes will NEVER cheat, and a few athletes will ALWAYS cheat, the key is to focus on those actually enhancing their performance through cheating and then influence the ones in the middle to not even try.
Which doping case surprised you the most?
I am concerned that cases like the 2017 CAS Decision involving Therese Johaug: (18-Month Suspension) potentially undermines the anti-doping movement.
The WADA Code needs to work out how to address cases that are clearly not a “doping” ie: cheating for a performance enhancement benefit.
While this case related to an error by a medical professional, the importance of educating journalists was highlighted, as this case was reported in the media as a ‘lip balm’ case.
The anti-doping agency (ADN in this case) and WADA came across as zealots on a witch hunt, which was counter-productive and undermines what everyone is trying to achieve.
Have you ever been disappointed by the harshness or the softness of a sanction for doping? If yes, in which case and why?
YES – disappointed. Cases not involving ‘cheating’, particularly relating to non-elite/ community level athletes, can waste NADO resources. I have suggested that the WADC discretion needs to be reviewed: for example through the case study of XYZ in NZ.
- Ordway, C. (ed). (2021) Restoring Trust in Sport: Corruption Cases and Solutions. Routledge.
- The Use of Discretion in Anti-Doping Cases involving Non-Elite Athletes: XYZ in NZ: Jamieson & Ordway
At the elite level, the case of TeamSky was very odd and I wonder whether the WADA Code could be reviewed to strengthen its powers in this type of case. See chapter: Dominance or Deceit in Professional Cycling: The Perceived Reality of Team Sky: Roberts & Ordway
Do you feel enough is being done to protect clean athletes?
No: one example is for WADA to better clarify the requirements around WADA lab analysis of EPO and when an AAF is declared, eg: Ordway, C., What went wrong in Peter Bol’s doping case? A sport integrity expert explains, The Conversation, 31 Mar 2023