15 October 2018

Call for independent investigation into Beckie Scott ‘bullying’ claims

David Sharpe, Chief Executive of the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA), has called for an independent investigation into Beckie Scott’s claims that she was treated with disrespect and “bullied” over her opposition to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) reinstatement of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA). Scott, the Chair of WADA’s Athlete Committee, told the BBC that members of the Olympic Movement who sit on WADA’s Executive Committee had made “comments and gestures that were inappropriate and indicative of a general attitude of dismissal and belittling of the athlete voice at the table”.

Scott, who resigned from WADA’s Compliance Review Committee (CRC) over the decision to reinstate RUSADA, said that such Executive Committee members had tried to bully her over the decision through comments and gestures. “There was laughter when I read the list of athlete committees who had produced statements and who were confronting this decision”, she said. The IOC recently approved its own Athletes’ Declaration on Human Rights, which was panned by player unions.

Nobody stepped in to protest against such treatment, Scott told the BBC. Her presentation was made ahead of the decision taken by WADA’s 12 person Executive Committee – which includes President Sir Craig Reedie – to reinstate RUSADA at a 20 September meeting in the Seychelles. The last minute decision to consider reinstating RUSADA was made by the CRC a day after WADA received a 13 September letter sent by Russia’s Minister of Sports, Pavel Kolobkov.

“Her allegations must be investigated and acted upon by the WADA Executive”, said Sharpe in a statement. “Bullying has not place in society and it is abhorrent to contemplate that a respected figure such as Ms Scott as faced such alleged behaviour from senior officials within WADA”. 

Travis Tygart, CEO of the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), labelled Scott’s treatment as appalling. “Beckie could not be more in tune with the strong pulse of all those who value clean sport – and outside of the Olympic bubble – when she states that WADA Leadership has now become fully aligned with the Olympic Movement”, he said in a statement. “The IOC tail is now unquestionably wagging the WADA dog, and that is not something anyone who cares about clean, fair sport wants to see”.

WADA told the BBC that allegations its leadership had become aligned with the IOC were ‘completely and demonstrably untrue. The leadership of WADA are independent and have shown time and time again that they make decisions exclusively in the best interests of the organisation and fight against doping. In fact, this independence has led to criticism of of WADA leadership by the very bodies with whom Miss Scott claims they are aligned.’

Scott’s presentation to the WADA Executive Committee meeting in protest against the reinstatement of RUSADA appears to contradict a claim made in a letter, signed by Reedie, which argued that athletes only expressed dissatisfaction with the decision to reinstate RUSADA in public. The extraordinary letter of response to Victoria Aggar, another member of WADA’s Athlete Committee, pointed out that Scott had initially supported the decision to reinstate RUSADA. Scott told the BBC that she changed her mind once she understood the ramifications of the decision.

‘WADA Athlete Committee Chair Beckie Scott, who was previously a member of the CRC, participated fully throughout the elaboration of the proposal’, read the letter. ‘She agreed with the recommendation that was submitted by the CRC to WADA and to Russia back in June, before being approved by the WADA ExCo. As an experienced athlete representative, Ms. Scott was intimately involved in every step of the process. You too, as a member of the WADA Athlete Committee, had the opportunity to ask questions or express dissatisfaction to the CRC Chair, Jonathan Taylor, in a conference call organized for the WADA Athlete Committee following the CRC’s recommendation. Yet dissatisfaction has only ever been conveyed publicly.’

It would appear that WADA wrote this response to Aggar knowing that Scott had presented the concerns of athlete organisations to the WADA Executive Committee on 20 September. ‘I have endeavoured to explain what is a complex and, to some, unpopular decision that I support’, continued the letter. ‘Because of its complexity, it does require one to want to understand the rationale and to be prepared to leave the emotion aside and think of the end game’.

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