Demonising Justin Gatlin
13th September 2015
Independent management of anti-doping in sport may be the only way for sport to resolve its inherent conflict of interests was the overriding message from day one of Tackling Doping in Sport at Twickenham Stadium, near London, today. A number of speakers spoke about the conflict between sport’s role in promoting itself and protecting its image, and its role in prosecuting drug cheats. Sir Craig Reedie, President of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), told delegates that following research undertaken by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) into whether a fully independent anti-doping agency is feasible, WADA would launch a full stakeholder consultation into how such a body could operate at its meeting in Strasbourg on 3 and 4 May.
It looks increasingly unlikely that the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) will be able to readmit Russia ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympics. Asked about whether he thought effective reform had been implemented, Founding President of WADA, Dick Pound, said that Russia is just “rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic […] My opinion from what I know so far is that they have not got to the point where they can credibly say that they have solved the problem.” Sir Craig Reedie said that two independent experts would be stationed in Moscow to oversee the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA).
On Friday, the Taskforce appointed by the IAAF is to present its report to the IAAF Council on whether Russia has implemented enough reforms. Journalist Hajo Seppelt said that it will take into consideration his video evidence (see below) of banned Russian coach Yuri Gordeev taking a call and offering banned drugs – including oxandrolone and testosterone – to a journalist posing as an athlete ahead of the Russian winter championships in February.
Shortly after the WADA Independent Commission released its second report in November last year, IOC President Thomas Bach said that he expected Russia to be readmitted ahead of the Rio Olympics. Seppelt pointed out that following his evidence, it may be more harmful to the public perception of sport for Russia to be seen to be competing at Rio. Especially since the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) has banned Bulgaria from the Games due to multiple violations committed by its athletes. “If Russia is allowed to compete, this could be seen as double standards”, he said (an interview with Seppelt will follow on the Sports Integrity Initiative).
Joseph De Pencier, Chief Executive of the Institute of National Anti-Doping Organisations (iNADO), said that sport’s conflict of interests was being highlighted by recent doping cases. He said that in the Essendon and Hird v. ASADA 2014 Federal Court of Australia case, it had emerged that pressure had been put on the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency (ASADA) to conclude its case against Essendon players prior to the Australian Football League (AFL) season starting. He also outlined similar instances in the Cycling Independent Reform Commission (CIRC) report and, perhaps obviously, the WADA Independent Commission reports.
At the EU Sport Forum in Brussels today, Dutch Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport, Edith Schippers, said that the full autonomy of sport is no longer a viable option. An interesting question was asked as to why athletes are subject to the starting point of a four-year ban, yet sporting bodies are not. “Governing bodies are like big boats”, said Antonio Rigozzi, Partner at Lévy Kaufmann-Kohler. “You can’t change their direction instantly”.
Sir Craig Reedie said that sport was “awash with money”, and he was “perplexed” that sport did not provide more money to invest in anti-doping. Under the current system, the IOC is asked to match any funding provided by governments, which means that WADA can only ask governments to contribute more. Pound and Reedie complained about the “war dance” from governments about a 1% increase in funding for the anti-doping system, and said that more funding would be needed “if serious investigations are to become the norm”, as the Independent Commission report had cost $1.5 million of its $26 million budget.
Pound also suggested that a body being investigated – such as a National Olympic Committee (NOC), international federation or a National Anti-Doping Organisation (NADO) – should contribute towards the cost of that investigation. “You need to do something to get their attention”, he said. “You would say that we have enough information that our internal review committee thinks there’s probable cause. We think that it’s going to cost a million dollars. We think it’s appropriate for you to pay half. Upfront. And if you don’t pay that in whatever the time is, then you can impose a provisional sanction.”
Pound said that information provided by Yulia Stepanova and Vitaly Stepanov was “critical” and got behind the “wall of denial” that still exists, to some extent, in Russia. “The world of sport owes whistleblowers a debit of gratitude”, he said. “That debt is yet to be repaid”. Sir Craig Reedie said that he had been “dismayed” to read reports which alleged that he hadn’t thanked the Stepanovs for putting themselves under considerable risk by coming forward. “For the record, I, WADA and the anti-doping community are very grateful”, he told the 300-plus delegates.
Dick Pound said that he “had no reason to believe” that Russia is the only country with issues. “A lot of countries are hard to get into, and you don’t know what’s going on”, he said. “I think that these countries are ripe for investigation. It sounded like it was getting perilously close in Kenya.” Kenya is understood to be pressing forward with an amended anti-doping Bill, after WADA indicated that its planned legislative reforms were not in line with the World Anti-Doping Code.
Pound also said that the WADA Independent Commission had approached Interpol, and there was “every indication” that the French criminal investigation into corruption at the IAAF will proceed. He said that Senegal, Singapore and Russia are now involved in the police inquiries and that Senegal has commenced an internal investigation into Papa Massata Diack, whom it has refused to extradite, despite his being wanted by Interpol.
An interesting side debate developed over whether Jack Robertson had retired as WADA’s Chief Investigative Officer, or whether he was fired. Seppelt said that WADA had fired Robertson, who led WADA’s Independent Commission reports into systematic doping in athletics and assisted the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) in its case against Lance Armstrong, for sharing some of the conclusions of the Independent Commission report ahead of its publication.
Dick Pound, WADA’s founding President, said that Robertson had retired. “Quebec law does not allow us to discuss the details of personnel publicly”, said a WADA spokesperson.
The final session of the day examined the story of Andreas Kreiger, which could prove prophetic for Russian athletes today. Heidi Kreiger was a shot-putter in the former German Democratic Republic who was systematically doped with anabolic steroids who went on to win the 1986 European Championships.
A 1995 decision to have surgery to transition from a woman to a man “saved my life”, says Kreiger in the documentary. In 2000, Kreiger discovered what had happened due to lawsuits related to State Plan 14.25, and that doping through hormones in adolescence can affect gender development. “My decision to discover my gender was taken from me”, says Kreiger in the documentary.
Dr. Andrea Gotzmann of the German national anti-doping agency (NADA) said that the German government had already put aside €10 million to help the “several hundred” athletes who suffer “serious health issues” due to State Plan 14.25, and that a further €10 million in funding had been agreed last year. It was revealed that both Germany and Russia may have decided to dope women more extensively than men because the “results are more immediate”.
Pound said that he solution to doping is education and deterrence. Education will allow cultural change, whilst deterrence will effect a change in conduct. “Holding hands in a pious circle, chanting aspirational goals and hoping doping will go away will accomplish nothing”, he added. “To date, in my view, when all is said and done, more is said than done.”
Doping is not going away. Sir Craig Reedie said that there had been a total of 85 anti-doping rule violations (ADRVs) since the 2015 Code had been introduced, and that 30 of the 90 athletes disciplined since the Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) had been introduced in 2009 had been sanctioned last year. However, it appears from today’s session that sport’s ability to autonomously manage anti-doping is now under serious threat.
• The Sports Integrity Initiative will be live tweeting from day two of Tackling Doping in Sport, which is organised by World Sports Law Report and UK Anti-Doping. To stay up to date, follow us on Twitter.
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