Demonising Justin Gatlin
13th September 2015
Sir Craig Reedie, President of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), today told the UK Parliament’s Culture, Media and Sport (CMS) Committee that he first became aware of corrupt payments made in connection to doping in Russia in December 2014. “I think I first became aware of it when I watched the ARD television programme in December 2014, which featured a couple from Russia, Vitaly and Yulia Stepanov”, said Reedie. “At that stage, we immediately set up the first Independent Commission, Chaired by Richard Pound, Richard McLaren and Günter Younger as the official investigator”.
Part Two of the WADA Independent Person (IP) Report, published by WADA on 9 December, highlighted that WADA was first told about corrupt payments in connection to Russian doping in December 2012. The system to cover up positive doping tests was outlined in an email (see PDF below) from Russian discus thrower Darya Pishchalnikova to WADA’s President at the time, John Fahey. At that time, Reedie was a member of the WADA Executive Committee and Foundation Board. The email was part of an evidential cache of ‘non-confidential’ information, containing 1,166 documents including photos, forensic reports, testing analysis, schedules, emails and working documents underpinning the WADA IP Reports.
Reedie also stated that Yuliya Stepanova only began to provide information to WADA on systemic Russian doping after she was accused of doping in 2013. This is correct, as this statement from the Stepanovs confirms, however it ignores the fact that Yuliya’s husband, Vitaly, began sending WADA information on state-sanctioned Russian doping in 2010. Reedie dismissed this information as a “casual connection” at today’s hearing.
‘While WADA did have discussions with whistleblowers as early as 2010, it took almost four years for the whistleblowers to develop and provide the corroborated evidence that any investigation would require to proceed’, said Reedie in a 21 September statement. ‘Once WADA had that evidence in hand in December 2014, the Agency immediately launched the Pound Commission in January 2015 when it acquired the legal authority to do so under the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code.’
WADA has consistently claimed that it did not have the power to investigate systemic Russian doping until the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code came into force on 1 January of that year. However, Article 20.7 of the 2009 World Anti-Doping Code required WADA to ‘monitor Code compliance by signatories’ and to ‘cooperate with relevant national and international organizations and agencies, including but not limited to, facilitating inquiries and investigations’. WADA carried out investigations prior to 2015, such as the one it conducted into Lance Armstrong.
Also, alarm bells should perhaps have rung earlier at WADA:
• A 2011 study published on the IAAF’s internet site, involving analysis of samples taken back in 2001, revealed that certain countries may have had an issue with doping.
• In July 2013, reporters at the Mail on Sunday told the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and WADA about state-sponsored doping in Russia.
• In May 2014, WADA published the Independent Observer Report, which highlighted interference by the Russian state in the Sochi 2014 laboratory.
• Part Two of the McLaren Report pointed out that Russia won the most golds at the 2013 International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships in Moscow for the first time since 2001.
• Part Two of the McLaren Report also pointed out that at the 2013 Summer Universiade in Kazan (Russia), Russia won the most medals with 292. The next nearest was China, which won 77.
• Russia also reported no adverse analytical findings (AAFs – in other words no positive tests) at the London 2012 and Sochi 2014 Olympics, let alone anti-doping rule violations (ADRVs). Part Two of the McLaren Report found that Russia had corrupted the London 2012 Olympics on ‘an unprecedented scale’, and that corruption continued at the Sochi 2014 Olympics.
Reedie also emphasised that Richard McLaren is an “independent investigator”, however as highlighted above, he was also a member of the Independent Commission that produced two reports ahead of the Independent Person reports. The Independent Commission was headed by WADA’s Founding President, Dick Pound, and Günter Younger was its third and final member. Younger was later hired as WADA’s Director of Intelligence and Investigations to replace Jack Robertson, who was critical of how WADA had handled the Russian situation. WADA set the mandate of investigation for the four Independent Commission and Independent Person reports, which has cost it upwards of US$2.5 million.
McLaren, an Arbitrator at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), was also commissioned by USA Track & Field (USATF) to investigate allegations that USATF ‘had concealed information about US athletes who may have tested positive for the use of performance enhancing drugs’ at the Sydney 2000 Olympics. The Report (PDF below), published on 11 July 2001, was also compiled by David Howman, who has worked with WADA since its inception in 1999 as a member of its Foundation Board and went on to become its Director General.
WADA emphasised that it is satisfied with the current regime regarding therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs), which allows athletes to take certain items that feature on WADA’s Prohibited List for health reasons. Olivier Niggli, WADA’s Director General, explained that TUEs are assessed by medical professionals and are assessed on the basis that any enhancement to performance would not be beyond what is considered the normal performance level of an individual athlete.
Reedie and Niggli didn’t support the idea of making TUEs public. Niggli said that the the TUE system had been painted as being non-transparent by the hacking group Fancy Bears, which criminally accessed WADA’s Anti-Doping Administration and Management System (ADAMS) to publish TUEs held by certain athletes. Niggli said that making TUEs available to the general public would be “dangerous and detrimental to the athlete”.
However, Reedie admitted that WADA had “not convinced everyone” to enter its TUEs into the ADAMS system. At its Foundation Board meeting last month, WADA admitted that it had spent US$200,000 on attempting to protect its systems from cyber attack, following the Fancy Bears attacks on ADAMS, and that attacks on ADAMS were continuing.
Niggli told the Commons CMS inquiry that there were 1,300 TUEs granted worldwide during 2015, while Reedie said that Fancy Bears had produced 14 false TUEs – four down from the 18 fake TUEs claimed at its Foundation Board meeting. Reedie labelled the group’s exposure of TUEs as “outrageous, criminal behaviour done for non-sporting, political reasons”.
The Commons CMS Committee also pressed Reedie and Niggli on what action it had taken regarding Russia’s hosting of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Reedie confirmed that McLaren had provided his findings to FIFA, who would decide what action to take.
“I am not aware of any evidential connection between what was done with the Pound Report and the McLaren Report with Mr Mutko”, said Reedie. “The only clear evidence we have is that there was one potential football case which may or may not be in breach of regulations”.
Part One of the Independent Person Report, published in July, was more forthright. ‘The IP is aware of at least 1 foreign footballer playing in the Russian League had that benefit of a SAVE order’, reads the Report. ‘That SAVE decision was made by Minister Mutko and not Deputy Minister [Yuri] Nagornykh. Email evidence available to the IP shows that the SAVE decision for the football players was the final decision of “VL.” VL is the first name and patronymic name initials of the Minister of Sport, Vitaly Leontiyevich Mutko, who is also the President of the Russian Football Federation.’
Mutko was replaced as Minister for Sport by Pavel Kolobov in October on the orders of Russian President Vladimir Putin, however he remains as President of the Russian football federation, the Russia 2018 World Cup and is a member of the FIFA Council.
Once again, the answers given by WADA to questions from government ministers about how it has handled perhaps the most serious crisis to hit sport in the past decade appear to give ammunition to those who argue that anti-doping should be independent of sport. IOC President Thomas Bach has already pledged to create an anti-doping system that is independent from sporting organisations and national interests.
While Reedie was keen to emphasise that WADA and the IOC have kissed and made up, the evidential cache published by WADA hints at the frustration it felt at being asked to share the evidence behind Part Two of its WADA IP Report with the IOC ahead of publication. McLaren’s apparent annoyance appears to have stemmed from the IOC’s apparent agreement to a WADA request for an extra US$500,000 in funding, as long as WADA cooperated with IOC investigations into doping.
‘I would like to point out that I am, as the title denotes, independent from WADA’ wrote McLaren to Guy Canivet (PDF below), who stood down as Chair of the IOC Commission of Inquiry set to examine allegations of doping at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics for personal reasons. ‘Please communicate directly with me, not through WADA. As we discussed in our meeting you see your role as interviewing individuals named in the IP Report of 18 July 2016. You were very assertive in pointing out that you did not intend to address the veracity of my report. You described the purpose of your Commission is to determine whether individual Russian officials should be subject to discipline under Rule 59 of the Olympic Charter. I note that there is no forthcoming Olympic Games where the sanctions of the Charter might apply. I would also respectfuly suggest that any evaluation of individual acts must be made in the context of how those acts fit into the overall Russian doping program as reported upon by me.’
The US House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee is currently gathering evidence on whether to launch an investigation into doping in sport. It is understood that the investigation will be conducted along similar lines to that which resulted in the Department of Justice (DoJ) launching an indictment against football officials in May last year. In other words, it will seek to establish whether US bodies have been defrauded by doping in sport. The IOC’s Bach has already been summoned to give evidence.
It is likely that WADA will have to revisit the answers given today in a larger and potentially more damaging environment than the CMS Committee, as the US government provides part of WADA’s funding. It remains to be seen whether they will also accept the explanations given by Reedie and Niggli about how they protected US government investment from being defrauded by Russian doping cheats.
One of the central tenets of most sports is that competition is split into male...