News 28th September 2016

IOC criticism of WADA grows as Bubka speaks out

Sergey Bubka has become the latest senior International Olympic Committee (IOC) member to call for reform of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). Bubka is a member of the 15-man IOC Executive Board and his concerns are similar to those voiced by Gerardo Werthein, an Argentinean IOC member in an editorial for Around The Rings. Bubka is also Senior Vice President of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), and in June received a note from WADA President Sir Craig Reedie expressing hope that a new ARD documentary on systemic doping would do no further damage to athletics.

“Recent events have shown that despite the sports movement and the Governments’ spending yearly close to US$30 million in WADA but much more so in the 300,000 yearly anti-doping tests for an average of 0.5% positive case questions can be raised about the effectiveness of the anti-doping fight,” Bubka told Inside The Games. “Most of the anti-doping cases are revealed by police investigation, judiciary procedures, whistleblowing or media, which shows that much money and efforts are probably not spent the right way”.

“Recent cases of compliances of the NADO (National Anti-Doping Organisation) or laboratory accreditation in Russia despite many elements being available since a long time through whistle blowing and positive tests shows that WADA’s efficiency needs to be strengthened”, he continued. “This is just reinforced by the management of the meldonium case, the management of the McLaren report and the hacking of WADA’s ADAMS [Anti-Doping Administration and Management] System containing the athletes’ whereabouts and TUEs [therapeutic Use Exemptions]. All this has brought a lack of confidence by the clean athletes in WADA as the organisation responsible for the fight against doping.”

While Bubka’s view that WADA’s efficiency needs to be strengthened lends credence to a WADA statement last week which claimed that the IOC wanted to reinforce WADA’s independence and regulatory powers, it also supports the view that WADA has failed to examine its own failings in dealing with systemic doping. Last week, WADA said it would ‘build on its successes’ and claimed that it acted appropriately regarding allegations of Russian doping – a view that is understood to be rankling some IOC executives, who are concerned about WADA’s failings.

On 17 October 2015, an Olympic Summit hosted by the IOC decided that anti-doping should be entirely separate from sport. WADA has been asked by the IOC to convene an ‘Extraordinary World Conference on Doping’ in 2017 about how this will occur, and an Olympic Summit on 8 October 2016 will elaborate on how this will happen.

‘Discussions will focus on the protection of clean athletes and, more specifically, on a review of the WADA anti-doping system’, read an IOC statement issued today. ‘The Olympic Summit will discuss some principles for a more robust, more efficient and more independent worldwide anti-doping system. This will include a reinforcement of the request issued by the Olympic Summit on 17 October 2015 to make the entire anti-doping system independent from sports organisations.’

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