Demonising Justin Gatlin
13th September 2015
Pavel Kolobkov, Russia’s Minister for Sport, has said that the country has overcome its doping crisis and is ready to share its experience with the anti-doping world, which should collaborate in promoting such positive change. “In Russia, the fight against doping has entered a new level”, he told the Sixth Conference of Parties to the International Convention Against Doping in Sport, held by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in Paris yesterday. “We will continue to work in this direction, including taking into account the results of monitoring carried out by UNESCO experts. Hopefully in the near future, our anti-doping system will be one of the best in the world.”
“Russia has gone through a serious crisis, but this situation has forced us to strengthen measures to combat doping in sport”, continued Kolobkov. “This is our incredible experience in overcoming the crisis, which we are ready to share. I think it is important to promote, internationally, a common position with regards to the positive change in our anti-doping system. Russia, on a State level, has always been opposed to doping.”
Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister and former Minister for Sport, Vitaly Mutko, was directly implicated in the Independent Person (IP) Report produced for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) by Richard McLaren as covering up the positive test of a Russian First Division footballer. In a recent editorial for the New York Times, former Director of the Moscow Laboratory, Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, certified that Mutko ‘knew about, and was critical to the success of, Russia’s doping programme’.
Dr. Rodchenkov is currently under the US Federal Witness Protection Programme. He has good reason to fear for his life. Nikita Kamaev, a former Director of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), had been planning to write exposing doping in sport. Kamaev died on Valentine’s Day 2016. ‘Presumably, the cause of death was a massive heart attack’, wrote RUSADA in a statement a day later.
Professor Verner Møller of Aarhus University had been in contact with Kamaev about collaborating on the book. “Kamaev wanted to write a book about not only doping in Russia, but about doping all over the world”, he told The Sports Integrity Initiative. “He had evidence that there was a secret doping laboratory outside of Russia. That is something that he wanted to show me when we met, but unfortunately we did not have a chance to meet before he passed away.”
The Founding Chairman of RUSADA, Vyacheslav Sinev, also died on February 3 2016. The circumstances of his death are still unknown, but Kamaev suggested on Skype that Sinev should meet researchers from the International Network of Doping Researchers (INDR) to discuss collaborating on his book.
Kolobkov also said that during 2016, the number of anti-doping rule violations (ADRV) reported by Russian athletes is 0.6% of the total samples taken. This is lower than the typical 1% of tests that result in an ADRV internationally, however prevalence studies suggest that as many as 45% of elite athletes admit to doping during the previous year. As any anti-doping researcher will tell you, a low percentage of ADRVs from testing does not necessarily mean that doping amongst elite athletes is low – it can also mean that tests are not catching the cheats.
RUSADA remains suspended and is conducting tests under supervision of UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) and independent experts. June 2016 WADA figures (PDF below) show that from 18 November 2015 to 29 May 2016, 2,947 tests were performed on Russian athletes, including 455 performed by UKAD.
UKAD said that 73 testing missions were not completed due to the athlete being unavailable and 736 test requests were declined, including 22 requests to test athletes in competition. There were 52 adverse analytical findings (AAFs), 1.8% of the total tests. A WADA Report (PDF below) said that athletes were observed ‘running away’ from the testing area, and one athlete ‘used a container inserted inside her body (presumably containing clean urine). When she tried to use the container it leaked onto the floor and not into the collection vessel. The athlete threw the container into the trash which was retrieved by the DCO. The athlete also tried to bribe the DCO. Eventually the athlete provided a sample which subsequently returned an Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF).’
Kolobkov also spoke out against the decision to make Russian athletes assume collective responsibility for the systemic doping uncovered in his country. “Doping problems are faced by many countries, in many different sports”, he said. “But it is important in finding solutions to these problems, we continue to adhere to the principles of objectivity, transparency and honesty…it is important to remember that every athlete has the right to an equal, unbiased attitude towards him.”
WADA is currently auditing RUSADA, and will hold a special meeting on 24 October to hear from the audit team and one of WADA’s Independent Experts in Russia. WADA’s Compliance Review Committee will then make a recommendation to the November 2017 WADA Board meeting about whether RUSADA should be reinstated.
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