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Ethics code to clean up sport's tarnished image

The Swiss Olympic Association wants to make sport scandal free (Swiss Olympic Association)

Swiss sports bosses have launched a code of ethics in response to a spate of scandals involving violence, racism and sexual abuse.

Concerned that negative headlines are turning people away from sport, the Swiss Olympic Association has called for a fresh focus on good ethics.

The association, which represents some 20,000 sporting groups involving 2.3 million Swiss, believes the code will help keep attention focused on positive aspects of sport.

The code emphasises universal access to sport, regardless of race, creed or sex, an end to sexual abuse and exploitation of athletes, as well as the fight against doping.

Walter Kägi, the association president, said racism, images of violence and reports of abuse had become common fare in recent years.

"We need to get back to the roots of sport... we want clean and credible sport," Kägi said.

Nef as ethics envoy

To help boost the profile of its campaign, the Swiss Olympic Association has appointed Swiss skiing star, Sonja Nef, as an "ethics ambassador".

Nef said she hoped the code would ensure organised sport continued to nurture and educate young people against racism, sexism and other negative social problems.

"I urge all those involved; the ethics charter should not become a paper tiger... something should finally change."

Kägi told swissinfo that issues like drug abuse in sport needed to be tackled through strong education.

"We are a part of society...and we say, let's act. We can't do it alone. We need all the federations, the politicians and sponsors to join in."

But despite the good sentiment, words are unlikely to halt drug cheats tempted by the financial rewards of professional sports.

Time for a drug agency?

Kägi acknowledged the problem, and says he supports the creation of a national drug-testing body.

"Perhaps where money is involved it's very delicate and the temptation will be greater to do things which are not correct," he told swissinfo.

"A national doping agency has some advantages: it's more independent, and sends a good signal that the sporting federations want to fight seriously against doping."

But drugs are not the only problems facing Swiss sports administrators.

The sexual abuse of young athletes continues to haunt some grass-roots organisations, as does the relentless pressure to achieve results.

In response, the code calls for athletes to be encouraged to reach their goals - without risking themselves physically or psychologically.

Big games no place for families

Meanwhile sports officials warn that images of soccer hooliganism and racism have undermined the popularity of certain sports.

Peter Lüthi, head of the Swiss ice hockey association, said the mere threat of violence was turning people away from games.

Lüthi said a recent survey found a key reason for why people avoided visiting soccer or hockey stadiums was the risk of violence.

"Violence has no place in sport, because we want to make our attractive game accessible to all.

"Families should be able to watch our games without second thoughts, and parents should be able to send their children to training without worries."

swissinfo, Jacob Greber

In brief

The new ethics code:

1. Equality for all, against racism, sexism, etc.
2. Sport in harmony with education, career and family.
3. Self-improvement and responsibility.
4. Encouragement not excess.
5. Environmental awareness.
6. Sports without violence, exploitation or sexual abuse.
7. No doping.

end of infobox


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