Demonising Justin Gatlin
13th September 2015
At its Executive Committee and Foundation Board meetings in Montreal on 15 and 16 May, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is expected to present the outcome of its investigation into allegations of ‘bullying’ made by Beckie Scott, Chair of its Athlete Committee and Ed Moses, Chair of its Education Committee. WADA recently expressed its disappointment that Scott and Moses had decided not to cooperate with its investigation, due to concerns about its independence.
Scott’s concerns have been outlined by her lawyers, reports AP. They include a number of WADA’s decision to hire Covington & Burling LLP without its Executive Committee holding a vote; the law firm’s previous work for WADA (as previously reported); lack of an understanding about the ‘terms of reference’ or scope of the investigation; and no opportunity for Scott’s lawyers to put questions to witnesses. The timeline below is intended to track how WADA has dealt with the allegations made by both Scott and Moses.
‘Beckie Scott and Edwin Moses are two of the most respected athletes worldwide’, read a statement emailed by Global Athlete. ‘They have fought tirelessly for years for clean port and athlete rights. To hear that their serious allegations of bullying and harassment by WADA officials has been investigated in such a one-sided, unprofessional and unfair manner goes against everything WADA is supposed to stand for. Bulling and harassment have no place in society and the allegations should have been investigated fairly and transparently – because, after all, isn’t WADA supposed to stand for fairness above all else?’
Following the WADA Executive Committee meeting in the Seychelles (20 September 2018) Beckie Scott wrote to Sir Craig Reedie and Olivier Niggli, President and Director General of WADA, complaining of derisive, inappropriate, and unprofessional behaviour by WADA officials.
The BBC interviews Scott, and she outlines that she felt that the behaviour of some WADA officials was designed “to bully” her. This is the first time that the term is used…
National Anti-Doping Organisations (NADOs), such as the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) and the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), call on WADA to investigate Scott’s claims.
Ed Moses, Chairman of the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and of WADA’s Education Committee, alleges that he was told to ‘shut up’ at WADA’s Foundation Board meeting in May.
WADA engage a company in Montreal called Relais to conduct an initial investigation, apparently pursuant to some internal rules relating to WADA staff. These rules do not pertain to WADA officials. It is understood that no letter of instruction nor terms of reference were provided to Scott or to the WADA Executive Committee.
WADA denies that Moses was told to ‘shut up’ at its May Foundation Board meeting in Montreal, stating that the media would have reported such comments, had they occurred.
Scott declined to provide details to WADA as she realised no independent firm would request details from a complainant via an individual who could be implicated in the alleged behaviour raised in her letter of complaint. She agrees to the suggested meeting in Baku prior to the WADA Executive Committee meeting, and seeks legal advice. Her Attorney, Benjamin Chew, agrees to accompany her to Baku for the meeting.
In the interim, without interviewing Scott, Relais submits a report to WADA. It is understood that the report was based on reviewing tapes and written transcripts from the meeting in the Seychelles. It is understood that no witnesses were spoken to, and there is no information given as to any meetings with WADA staff or officials, nor any written mandate given by WADA to Relais.
The WADA team includes the Human Resources Senior Manager. Upon meeting Scott’s Attorney, Reedie and Niggli refuse to hold the meeting, stating they were not prepared to meet without having their own Attorney present. A letter from Scott’s Attorney, Benjamin Chew, is also received by WADA on this date, outlining Scott’s allegations.
Prior to the commencement of the Executive Committee meeting on 14 November, Moses submits a letter to Reedie and Niggli detailing his observations of the bullying and harassment of Scott, and his own experiences at WADA of similar treatment and behaviour. His letter called for an independent investigation to be conducted as to the ‘culture of bullying at WADA’.
The Relais report is presented to the Executive Committee. The report suggests no indication of bullying or harassment. A long discussion was held (the minutes are internally available, but not yet approved for public release) at the end of which Niggli stated that the legal advice needed would be for the Executive Committee “to make the right decisions”. He went on to say “of course there would be a discussion with Ms. Scott’s counsel”, and then he would come back to the members and set out the recommendations, and present a possible way forward.
Reedie summarised the position by saying “Ms Scott’s counsel had written to WADA, and it seemed to be a much wider type of report, dealing not only with the specific issues in the Seychelles but with a wider set of circumstances, some of which Mr Moses had mentioned”. He repeated that WADA needed its own advice on how to deal with that and this “will determine the next steps”. The decision recorded in the minutes is ‘Independent firm to continue investigation into Ms Scott’s allegations of bullying‘.
Without informing, nor obtaining clearance from the Executive Committee, the findings of the Relais report were released to the media with the conclusion that no bullying had been found, and that a second phase of the investigation would commence due to the ‘serious nature of the allegations’. The WADA policy in respect of harassment complaints, under which it should have engaged Relais, states that ‘in all cases, all disclosures or formal complaint shall be treated with confidentiality’.
Media and members of the public are able to attend the Foundation Board meeting. Niggli reported to the meeting that the Executive Committee had decided that a second phase of the initial report would be held in order to interview people. The inference was clear that Relais would continue. Niggli stated that a broader investigation was not merited at that time based on the information available, however legal advice would be sought because of the letter received from a US lawyer only 48 hours earlier on the topic (this is outlined in the draft form of the meeting minutes).
Reedie writes to all members of the Executive Committee and states ‘…as discussed at the Executive Committee meeting in Baku, WADA has retained legal advice in the US […] Given the threat of litigation expressed by Ms Scott’s and Dr Moses’ Attorney, the investigation will be conducted by the international law firm of Covington & Burling LLP’.
Attached to the President’s letter is a letter of advice from the law firm. It appears from that letter that WADA has engaged Covington & Burling LLP to conduct an investigation before 19 December, as it states ‘we do not believe Relais’s continued participation is advisable’ and ‘Relais’s involvement would be duplicative […] our investigation has not yet begun’.
It is understood that no approval for these changes was sought from the Executive Committee. It is understood that no consultation took place with Scott’s Attorney. It is understood that no terms of reference were issued, and no letter of mandate from WADA was published. The letter from Covington & Burling LLP states that its investigation ‘is not a broad-ranging assessment of WADA’s culture or governance’.
WADA announces that it has engaged Covington & Burling LLP to further investigate Scott & Moses’s claims. ‘Covington has been given the mandate to conduct a full and thorough investigation of allegations of bullying and harassment, including interviews of the relevant parties; and, to deliver unbiased and independent findings to the ExCo’, it states.
Attorneys for Scott and Moses raise issues of natural justice and elaborate on matters on which they had not been given the courtesy of a reply. This included allegations of a lack of independence, as Covington & Burling LLP is a firm previously used by WADA.
Covington & Burling LLP commenced interviews. It is understood that neither Scott nor Moses were asked for an interview. Several witnesses asked for their terms of reference or a letter of instruction. It is understood that none were provided.
The minutes from WADA’s Seychelles Executive Committee meeting show that two members were forced to intervene after pressure was put on Scott by members of the Olympic movement. The two members that intervened were Ed Moses and Linda van Helleland, WADA’s Vice President.
Scott is informed by several people at the WADA Symposium that they have been interviewed as part of WADA/Covington’s investigation. Covington & Burling LLP make a presentation on Data Protection and Privacy, as advisors to WADA on this issue.
Scott and Moses’s Attorneys meet with Covington & Burling LLP to discuss the several matters raised in their correspondence. They are told that the outcome “would not be good” if they decline to participate. They are also told that a Report will be
issued, with or without their participation.
Scott and Moses decline to partake given their concerns about WADA’s investigation. These include: lack of independence; lack of transparency, no terms of reference; no scope; reporting or public disclosure protocols. These concerns are outlined by their Attorney, and were published by the BBC.
WADA issues a statement ‘expressing disappointment’ with Scott and Moses’s decision not to cooperate with its investigation. The statement alleges that Scott and Moses opposed the use of a ‘Canadian firm’ (Relais), but doesn’t mention their opposition to the use of Covington & Burling LLP.
In his report to the Executive Committee and Foundation Board meetings for May, Niggli states: ‘The Executive Committee was informed on 19 December 2018 of this course [to appoint Covington & Burling LLP], and no Executive Committee member objected to the way forward’. Under its Constitution, the WADA Executive Committee votes electronically to make decisions. That course has been followed on many occasions, but it would appear that it was not used in taking the decision to appoint Covington & Burling LLP.
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