News 14th September 2016

IOC denies giving Russian commission a deadline for change

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has denied giving a Russian commission appointed to reform anti-doping a list of conditions that must be completed, and has denied suggestions that a three-month deadline has been imposed. “It is not up to the IOC to give instructions nor deadlines to a commission that has been created by the Russian government”, said an IOC spokesperson, however they confirmed that the IOC has been in discussion with the Russian commission to offer its assistance. “The IOC has expressed its will to cooperate in this investigation in order to help to address the challenges in the anti-doping fight in Russia, as identified by the several WADA reports”, continued the spokesperson.

On 8 September, the Independent Public Anti-Doping Commission said it had begun work on a ‘road map’ for change. “We have received from the IOC and WADA a list of conditions that must be completed in the next three months”, said the Chairman of the 28-person Commission and senior IOC member, Vitaly Smirnov, in response to journalist questions following its launch. “The main task is to ensure the full independence of RUSADA [Russian Anti-Doping Agency] from any government agencies. At the same time, funding for its activities should be taken directly from the state budget. In addition, it is necessary to introduce criminal liability for persons who incite athletes – especially juveniles – to use illicit drugs.”

Russia has already approved a Bill to criminalise doping, which Smirnov expects to come into force by the end of the year. “We will closely monitor the progress of the investigation in respect of persons suspected of distributing doping”, said Smirnov (pictured, second from left), which appears to be a thinly-veiled reference to a state investigation that is attempting to put Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov at the centre of an illegal trade in performance-enhancing substances. “We hope that the perpetrators will be punished”.

The IOC spokesperson’s assertion that the Russian Commission was created by the government would call into question its claim to be independent. The Investigative Commission of the Russian Federation (SKR) is carrying out the investigation into Dr. Rodchenkov. The IOC cannot comment on the progress of its investigation, so at present it is not clear how closely the IOC or WADA are monitoring the changes Russia is proposing to introduce, and whether they are open to abuse.

Dr. Rodchenkov revealed that four of 14 gold medals at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics were won by Russians on steroids, and that the Sochi laboratory had helped cover up their cheating. He also alleged that the Russian federal security service (FSB) facilitated this by managing the testing process at Sochi 2014, with agents working as Doping Control Officers (DCOs). However, he only felt comfortable going public with his allegations after he had left Russia.

The IOC has appointed the Canivet Commission as a follow up to the WADA IP Report, which is investigating potential violations of the World Anti-Doping Code and the Olympic Charter. To send a list of demands to Russia could potentially compromise that investigation.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) did not respond to questions about whether it had sent a list of demands and a deadline to the Russian Commission. However, this would appear unlikely, given that it extended the mandate of Richard McLaren to investigate extra evidence gleaned during his Independent Person (IP) Report. A follow-up to the IP Report is expected to be published at the end of October. To send a list of demands to Russia would appear out of kilter with its usual investigative approach.

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