If you lose your reputation, it’s very difficult, if not impossible to get it back, David Howman told graduates at the Tuesday afternoon session of Western’s 307th Convocation.
“Remember, please, you have one reputation. You have earned that by keeping strong personal values and maintaining principles. Make sure you keep it,” he said. “Maintain your principles. Stay on the high road. Should you fall off, be pushed off or choose to go the low road, it is a very tough climb back. Maintain your principles. Maintain your values. Do not be tempted to seek shortcuts.”
Howman spoke to graduates from the Faculty of Health Sciences, Huron University College and School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies at the Tuesday, June 21, afternoon session of Western’s 307th Convocation.
Western conferred an honorary Doctor of Lawns, honoris causa, upon Howman in recognition of his leadership in the fight against doping in sport and for bringing a better understanding of the issues to the forefront of the global athletic realm.
In 2003, Howman was the founding Chief Operating Officer of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). Later that same year, he became the Director General, a position he will step down from at the end of this month. WADA’s key activities include research, education, development and monitoring of doping in sport. Howman’s leadership enabled WADA to evolve into a highly effective world agency.
Hailing from New Zealand, Howman was ranked highly as a junior tennis player and was a member of the New Zealand Junior Davis Cup squad for tennis. He represented Victoria University in rugby before earning a law degree, which he used to practice as a lawyer specializing in sports law in New Zealand. Howman also pursued post-graduate law studies and earned a master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1975.
In his citation, Western Law professor Richard McLaren said Howman has been the public profile and face of WADA, spearheading the implementation of the first version of the World Anti-Doping Code and its accompanying prohibited list of performance enhancing substances and methods, which was a giant step for world sport.
“David was the leader everyone knew, and he charmed and cajoled sports federations and the International Olympic Committee into greater control and regulation of doping in sport,” McLaren said.
He added Howman’s guidance and strong-willed conviction to create a doping free sporting world has resulted in two recently highly public investigations.
The first involved the sport of Athletics – better known in Canada as track and field – and the Russian members of the Athletics federation. The other investigation is on-going and involves the examination of remarks by the
former WADA accredited lab director in Moscow as to the swapping of urine samples to achieve clean Russian athlete results at the Games.
“The vision and fortitude to establish these investigations under the leadership of David Howman represented a game changer in how sport anti-doping regimes will be regulated in the future,” said McLaren.
Howman served as Chairman of the New Zealand Sports Drug Agency between 2000-03 and was instrumental in writing the agency’s legislation. He is the former President of New Zealand Tennis and former Commissioner for New Zealand Rugby. He served as Chair of the Independent Observer Team at the Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City in 2002, previously serving as Deputy Chair for the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney.