New group to help drug whistleblowers

LAUSANNE • Inspired by the Russian doping scandal, a new non-profit foundation is offering financial and legal assistance to whistleblowers with information about cheating in international sports.

The foundation, Fair Sport, is working with the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) - the global regulator of drugs in sports. It plans to help protect and advise people who have evidence that could inform the agency's investigations as well as related government investigations into bribery, corruption or drug trafficking.

Whistleblowers approved by Fair Sport's board of directors - which includes a venture capitalist, a former US federal prosecutor and a four-time Olympic speed skating gold medallist from Norway - will be eligible for assistance with a range of services, including housing, criminal defence, immigration applications and psychological counselling.

"Most of the big cases of cheating have been revealed because of whistleblowers," said Johann Koss, the speed skating champion and a founder of Fair Sport.

"But most of the people who've come out and talked have been totally isolated afterwards."

Drawing on private donations and commitments from international law firms to provide their services without fees, the organisation is seeking to minimise the risk whistleblowers face in speaking out, emphasising confidentiality while empowering people who are jeopardising their livelihoods and possibly incriminating themselves.

  • $5m

    Target in US dollars - or S$7.08 million - that Fair Sport hopes to raise in efforts to aid whistleblowing.

Fair Sport, registered as a non-profit organisation in the United States and Britain, hopes to raise US$3 million (S$4.25 million) to US$5 million this year, Koss added.

A majority of the money will go toward whistleblower expenses, he said, while some is expected to be used to vet candidates before the foundation agrees to help them.

In addition to its collaboration with Wada, Fair Sport is also pursuing agreements with national anti-doping authorities and law enforcement agencies, hoping to refer witnesses while also soliciting referrals of credible whistleblowers in need of assistance.

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 15, 2017, with the headline 'New group to help drug whistleblowers'. Print Edition | Subscribe