Press releases 15 January 2016

Michael Ashenden statement in response to WADA report

With regard to WADA’s Independent Commission, I wish to emphasise that I endorse their integrity, I salute their candour, and I respect their findings. I have always tried to call things as I see them. In the case of IAAF pursuing sanctions based on pre-2009 database values, I see things differently to the prevailing legal views, including now the view of the IC. My rationale is simple: desperate times called for desperate measures. Blood doping in athletics had spiralled out of control such that athletes were racing with life-threatening blood values. I did cite one case where ‘my’ strategy led to a sanction (speedskater Claudia Pechstein), but I accept the IAAF would have faced a very difficult path if they ran cases before 2009. However, I respectfully suggest that if USADA’s decision whether to pursue Lance Armstrong was equally timid in the face of “likelihood of success, the effects of losing an appeal at the costs of litigation”, Armstrong would still be a seven times Tour de France champion.

That said, after reading the report my view on the IAAF has changed. I was heartened to learn that the WADA experts reported to the Independent Commission that the IAAF took “commendable” action against suspicious blood values. But I was especially heartened to learn there were staff within the organisation who seemed to fight for justice in the face of obstruction by their superiors.

Perhaps now is the time to lower cudgels and give the IAAF an opportunity to make good on its promises to reform. With the caveat that the IAAF adopt each and every IC recommendation, especially that they provide any necessary support for the relocation and employment of Vitaly Stepanov and Yulia Stepanova, then I am willing to join Dick Pound in crossing my fingers in hope that Lord Coe will deliver on his promise.

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