The International Carding Scheme has, since its introduction in 1998, been a central part of the high performance system in Ireland. Notwithstanding some significant amendments, notably in 2005 and 2010, it has remained a constant pillar of the system and following the London Games it was considered timely to review its impact and future role. Knight, Kavanagh & Page (KKP) Management Consultants were contracted to deliver this review and it has produced a final report and recommendations on future development. The key recommendations identified in the report are that:
Support for the production of elite athletes at Olympic/Paralympic level will be a more explicit aim of the scheme
Criteria will be simplified with a stronger emphasis on Olympic and Paralympic performance
Direct funding to athletes will be retained, however this will, wherever feasible, be delivered and administered via the performance plan of the NGB
On a phased basis, targeted NGBs who meet ‘fit for purpose’ criteria will take responsibility for management of the scheme
Individual payment bands will be adjusted and made more flexible to enable them to be more specifically based on athlete need
Investment in athlete support will be based on performance, accountability and potential to deliver on the stated objectives
Athletes supported will be required to commit to delivery of a “social contract”
Over time, the management of athlete payments will be transitioned into targeted NGBs and scheme administration transferred across to high performance funded sports. This will allow athlete support to become a seamless part of a high performance plan managed by the performance director of each sport.
Sport Ireland will adopt a new role overseeing management and robustly monitoring and evaluating the athlete payment process. Targeted NGBs will be identified via the 2013 planning process, with the aim of transferring athlete payment responsibility, where appropriate, by 2014.
Payment bands will be replaced with a more flexible system that allows the performance director to make an assessment that takes account of all aspects of support that the athlete is receiving and better reflects the cost of living needs of the individual recipient athletes.
The Review includes a wide range of recommendations that will be applied across a variety of sports. Full implementation will take some time and will need to be carried out on a phased basis. The High Performance Unit will need to establish an operational plan to ensure full compliance with Review recommendations and the new process is likely to look very different from the one currently in operation – although it is anticipated that the return on overall investment in athletes will be greater.
The high performance system in Ireland has evolved over the past decade based upon the High Performance Strategy of 2001 and successive Olympic/Paralympic Games reviews. It will continue to evolve over the next decade. The critical point is that it retains a clear focus on supporting Irish athletes to achieve their potential at the highest levels of competition.
Transition Phase 2013-2014
In 2013, the International Carding Scheme operated in its current form with some important changes;
- Pro rata applications were no longer part of the Scheme
- Performance Incentive Payments were removed from the Scheme
- Medical Cases were not supported in 2013
- The two year window of support for Podium and World Class was removed
- Junior and Developmental athletes were no longer supported through the Carding Scheme, but through the NGB’s High Performance Plan instead
- NGBs without a supported High Performance Plan were transitioned out of Carding and into the NGB’s Core Plan for 2013
- NGBs that did not have carded athletes in the last four year cycle were removed from the Carding Scheme
During 2013, details of the new scheme were mapped out and three sports identified to take on the management of the Carding Scheme: Athletics, Sailing, Swimming. During 2014, it is expected that new sports will be identified to take on this role.
The Scheme is underpinned by a drugs-free philosophy. For further information on the Sport Ireland anti-doping programme please contact the Anti Doping Unit at the Sport Ireland office on 01-8608828.