The Malta Independent 12 December 2018, Wednesday

After Russia vote, anti-doping group calls WADA compromised

Friday, 21 September 2018, 19:00 Last update: about 4 months ago

A leading anti-doping group hinted at changing the structure of the World Anti-Doping Agency, saying the decision to reinstate Russia's drug-fighting operation is a sign WADA leaders are saddled with "conflicting priorities."

The Institute of National Anti-Doping Organizations said in a statement Friday that members of the WADA executive committee had pressures surrounding the decision that went beyond doping.

The committee voted 9-2 on Thursday to end RUSADA's suspension after weakening the standards originally agreed upon for reinstatement.

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The committee is headed by Craig Reedie, whose status as a member of the International Olympic Committee has long been viewed by people in the anti-doping community as a conflict of interest.

The other spots on the committee are divided among sports and government leaders.

Linda Helleland, the minister of children and equality in Norway, was among those voting "no," and after the vote said, "Today, we failed the clean athletes of the world."

The institute said WADA "surrendered to pressure from the IOC and the Russian government to substantially weaken the terms of the Road Map."

"This is not good governance, nor does it reflect a good governance model," the statement said. "WADA must be an effective and resolute global anti-doping regulator and governor — exclusively."

The comments from a body that represents 67 anti-doping agencies around the world largely echoed what U.S. Anti-Doping Agency CEO Travis Tygart said in the hours following the decision, when he called for revamping WADA.

"It starts by removing the inherent conflict of interest that comes about from the IOC fox guarding the WADA henhouse," Tygart said.

Before the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, WADA had recommended against the IOC allowing Russian athletes to participate in the wake of the McLaren Report, which documented a state-sponsored doping scheme designed to help win medals at the Winter Games in Russia.

The IOC ignored that recommendation and allowed in Russian athletes.

After that decision, Reedie issued a statement saying: "The McLaren Report exposed, beyond a reasonable doubt, a state-run doping program in Russia that seriously undermines the principles of clean sport embodied within the World Anti-Doping Code."

It was a rare rebuke of the IOC by one of its own members, and one that Reedie hasn't repeated since.

Among the conditions WADA originally set for RUSADA's reinstatement was that Russia accept the findings of the McLaren Report. That was changed to a requirement Russia accept the IOC's Schmid Report, which put less emphasis on the Russian government's role in the cheating.

The other change allows Russia until Dec. 31 to turn over lab samples and data, instead of demanding possession before reinstatement.

While others have suggested WADA caved to pressure from the IOC, Reedie has portrayed WADA's moves as nothing more than a pragmatic and realistic approach to bringing RUSADA back into the fold.

INADO took exception to that thinking.

"As the global regulator, WADA should have been objectively enforcing the agreed sanctions and requirements, not compromising them," the group said.

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