20 September 2018

Kolobkov ignored WADA advice on words to use for RUSADA reinstatement

Olivier Niggli, Director of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), told Pavel Kolobkov, Russia’s Minister of Sport, what words he should add to a statement in order for the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) to be reinstated as compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code, reveals an unpublished letter obtained by the BBC. The 30 May letter (see below) was not one of six communications with Kolobkov published by WADA last week  ‘in the interest of full transparency’. Subsequent communications reveal that Kolobkov ignored Niggli’s advice.

Niggli’s letter is a response to a 14 May 2018 letter sent by Kolobkov, the Russian Olympic Committee and Russian Paralympic Committee to WADA. At a 14 June 2018 meeting, WADA’s Compliance Review Committee (CRC) expresses concern that the 14 May letter ‘emphasises that it was unidentified “individuals” who were guilty of corrupting the system, and there is no acknowledgement that anyone at the Ministry of Sport was involved in (let alone directed) the scheme. To the contrary, the letter insists that “any eventual manipulations and practices were carried out without our knowledge or authorisation”, and that the failure by the authorities was in “the anti-doping monitoring system” (i.e., not spotting what others were doing) […] The CRC is concerned at the continuing lack of acknowledgement of the specific finding by both McLaren and Schmid that Ministry of Sport officials directed the doping scheme.’

The 30 May letter obtained by the BBC reveals that Niggli advised Kolobkov on where the 14 May letter to WADA fell short, and what text could be inserted in order to convince the CRC that Russia had met the remaining conditions outlined in the Roadmap To Compliance. ‘We think that a small addition to the letter, if acceptable to you, could ensure that the letter is well received by the CRC and that a positive recommendation is provided to our Executive Committee’, it reads. ‘These words come from the [International Olympic Committee’s] Schmid Report, which Russia has already accepted. The proposal is to add the following: “involving a number of individuals within the Ministry of Sport and its subordinated entities”.’

The relevant passage from the IOC’s Schmid Report…

On 19 June, the CRC said that it would recommend the first condition of WADA’s Roadmap To Compliance had been fulfilled if the Russian authorities acknowledged that ‘a number of individuals within the Ministry of Sport and its subordinated entities’ were involving in manipulating the anti-doping system in Russia. This is the same wording as suggested by Niggli, and comes from page 25, paragraph seven of the Schmid Report.

Kolobkov ignored Niggli’s advice, as his 13 August and 13 September letters to WADA reveal. However despite this, the CRC concluded that it considered the first condition of the Roadmap To Compliance had been fulfilled, as Kolobkov’s 13 September letter outlined that: ‘The Russian Federation fully accepted the decision of the IOC Executive Board of December 5, 2017 that was made based on the findings of the Schmid Report’. The CRC found that this ‘amounts to an acceptance of all of the findings of the Schmid Report (which itself endorsed the core findings of the McLaren report, including that officials within the Ministry of Sport were involved in the manipulation of the anti-doping system in Russia)’.

The second remaining requirement in WADA’s Roadmap to Compliance was that Russian authorities must provide access for ‘appropriate entities’ to all samples stored in the Moscow Laboratory. This was later amended to include the provision of access to the authentic Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) of the Moscow Laboratory, which was suspended in November 2015. WADA only has a copy of the LIMS database, which Russian authorities have argued is not authentic.

Although the CRC found that this requirement had not been fulfilled, it recommended that WADA’s Executive Committee should reinstate RUSADA at today’s meeting in the Seychelles. The recommendation was conditional on:

• RUSADA and the Russian Ministry of Sport providing to WADA the authentic Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) from the Moscow Laboratory by a set date; and
• RUSADA and the Russian Ministry of Sport ensuring that re-testing of samples stored at the Moscow Laboratory required by WADA following analysis of the LIMS data is completed no later than six months after the set date referred to above.

WADA’s Executive Committee consists of ten members, plus WADA President and Vice President, Sir Craig Reedie and Linda Hofstad Helleland. As Reedie outlined the watered-down conditions on which the CRC based its recommendation, he is likely to vote for reinstatement. Hofstad Helleland has said that she will vote against reinstatement. It is understood that the results of the vote will be publicised before 2pm UK time today.

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