Demonising Justin Gatlin
13th September 2015
The creation of an Independent Testing Authority (ITA) and whether the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) is ready for compliance with the World Anti-Doping Code will be key topics at the Foundation Board meeting of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in Montreal today. A report on the feasibility of establishing an ITA to conduct all anti-doping tests on athletes will be presented to the WADA Foundation Board.
The 38 members of the WADA Foundation Board will also be updated on the progress made regarding recommendations made at its November 2016 meeting in Glasgow, including the results of a questionnaire sent to Anti-Doping Organisations (ADOs) on a graded sanctioning system for ADOs that do not comply with the World Anti-Doping Code; progress regarding WADA’s Speak Up! whistleblower protection programme; an update from the Working Group on WADA reform; progress on the new framework to recover investigation costs; and more.
WADA agreed to set up a Working Group to explore the establishment of an ITA in November 2015, after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) first suggested the idea at its Olympic Summit in October of that year. The Working Group was originally tasked with reporting back on the feasibility of the idea in May 2016.
At the WADA Foundation Board meeting in November last year, the ITA concept was barely mentioned, however it is understood that it was discussed at a later meeting with the IOC. “The feeling was that it might suit international federations to have a completely independent agency”, explained WADA President Sir Craig Reedie at the meeting. “The original suggestion was that it should be established by WADA. Our governance partners have said that they are not sure we could do that – for two reasons. The first is that if you are a regulator, then you cannot be a testing agency as well. Secondly, there is always the question of finance.”
Sport has also expressed its doubts as to whether an ITA would be universally accepted. “We respect the WADA and IOC proposals but they concern the smaller federations”, Michel D’Hooghe, Chairman of FIFA’s Medical Committee, told AFP. How the ITA would be funded is likely to be a major point of contention.
“As far as WADA is concerned, we have conducted the research and we know, technically, how it would work”, continued Sir Craig. “It may be that it is a separate agency from WADA. If the sports movement wants to fund it, then yes, it can be done. The issue is how many sports will want to sink their efforts into doing this themselves. From a WADA point of view, we are perfectly relaxed about that and we would then regulate it in the same way that we would regulate the IAAF.”
The Working Group has had 18 months to examine how the establishment of an ITA might work. Therefore, answers to these key questions will be expected.
Firm proposals regarding the graded sanctioning system for ADOs will also be presented to the Foundation Board. At the WADA Symposium in March, Compliance Review Committee (CRC) Chairman Jonathan Taylor outlined that ADOs deemed non-compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code would be “given time” to address their non-compliance. About 80% of 170 respondents at the Symposium agreed that an International Standard for Compliance should be developed to sit alongside WADA’s five existing international standards.
At the Symposium, Taylor confirmed that the sanctions would apply to all instances of non-compliance with the Code, such as the requirement to publish testing figures under Article 14.4 of the World Anti-Doping Code, which many national anti-doping agencies currently don’t comply with. Asked if Code signatory non-compliance could mean exclusion from sport, WADA’s Deputy Director General Rob Koehler said: “We don’t want history to repeat itself”.
The Foundation Board is also likely to hear whether RUSADA is ready to be re-accredited as compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code. At the WADA Symposium in March this year, Reedie questioned Russian Minister of Sport Pavel Kolobkov’s assertion that RUSADA would be “provisionally compliant” by May.
“I question whether we will be ready for May”, said Reedie. “There is much to be done. But that having been said, the world of sport will be very well served by a complaint RUSADA. We have to get the biggest country in the world compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code.”
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