‘Out of date’ anti-doping law results in ban of Thai flag at international competitions
When badminton stars Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai won gold at the 2021 BWF World Championships in Spain, Thailand was not able to fly the national flag. Instead, it had to settle for the Badminton Association of Thailand’s pennant.
This is because Thailand has been blacklisted by World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) since October 7 for failing to adjust its “out-of-date” anti-doping law in line with the international 2021 Anti-Doping Code.
WADA prohibits the use of any substance or method that:
• Has the potential to enhance or enhances sports performance
• Represents an actual or potential health risk to the athlete
• Violates the spirit of sports
WADA also requires that Thailand’s National Anti-Doping Organisations (NADO) be independent. NADO currently comes under the jurisdiction of the Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT).
WADA gave Thailand 21 days to amend its anti-doping law but the process was too complicated to complete in time. Hence, it has been hit by the following penalties:
• Thailand can only hold international tournaments that it had been selected for before October 8, 2022. The country cannot offer to host any other international competitions, though this punishment does not include the Olympics or Paralympics.
• Thailand can fly its national flag at the Olympics, Paralympics, Winter Olympics and Youth Olympics. However, the Thai national flag cannot be flown at any other international sports competition. Uniforms worn by Thai athletes can still display the national flag or the word Thailand. Fans can also use the national flag to cheer Thai athletes.
Meanwhile, SAT is seeking permission from Thailand’s National Olympic Committee and Paralympic Committee to use their flags instead. In the meantime, SAT will call on sports associations to fly their own or SAT’s flag at international competitions.
Thailand expects to finish amending its law by February and believes the situation will return to normal by May.
However, WADA has warned that the punishment will last for at least one year and can be extended if the law is not amended.