Demonising Justin Gatlin
13th September 2015
Dear President, Dear Sir Craig,
On behalf of the global athlete community, I am writing to you to express some serious concerns that I and I know thousands of athletes across the world have about WADA’s recent actions, along with subsequent comments made by WADA leadership to media. Needless to say, and as the global athlete community has already clearly expressed, we were desperately disappointed by WADA’s decision to alter its own Roadmap for Russian Compliance, which led to the reinstatement of the country’s National Anti-Doping Agency despite the country not yet having publicly accepted the McLaren Report nor having granted WADA access to the laboratory.
If athletes are required, rightly, to play by anti-doping rules, then so should the global regulator too. The message this sent to the world was staggering, and we have concerns that it has tarnished WADA’s reputation irrevocably. The unprecedented outcry we saw from the athletes and general public, I think speaks volumes as to the severity of WADA’s out-of-touch and inexplicable decision.
We have also heard a lot from you in the media over the past days attempting to justify that the decision to declare Russia compliant was in the interests of clean athletes. Above all, we understand you were quoted by media as challenging athletes: “What, in practice, is the alternative [to WADA’s decision to reinstate Russia]?”. Mr. President, on behalf of the world’s athletes, I wish to state that the alternative was very simple: the alternative was for WADA not to change the conditions of its own Roadmap, not to “move the goalposts” and coach Russia into how to become compliant again, and not to let down the world’s athletes like you did.
In response to further comments you made to media, we, the world’s athletes, know that WADA will have full records on those athletes who have been sanctioned as a result of the exposure of Russian doping by the McLaren and Pound Reports. We are told that hundreds of athletes from many sports were doped by Russian authorities. What we, as clean athletes want to know is how many and from what sports? Surely WADA can publish this information in the interests of clean sport.
Then, we would like you to inform us what sports are not taking steps to sanction those athletes who were doping, and why? When we have that data, we would expect you, as the leader of the World Anti-Doping Agency, to tell us why you think more athletes will now be sanctioned as a result of your decision. And, needless to say, that you guarantee that this will be the case?
One of our concerns is that many cheating athletes are, and have been, competing on the world stage although they were part of the Russian doping program, and that WADA is doing little to remedy that. A second concern is that the many officials, coaches, trainers, advisors and administrators who were complicit in the doping program, including those in government, remain in office or in positions of authority. Please advise us and the broader public, what have you done about those people?
Finally, Mr. President, I believe I speak for the majority of athletes out there in saying that we are totally perplexed and shocked by WADA’s lack of response to yesterday’s FBI indictment of 7 Russian State Officers for Illegal Hacking. Mr. President, needless to say, this was the headline news story worldwide, and as the FBI and other international authorities – including by our own British Government and the British Foreign Secretary – confirmed yesterday, this related to actions that were perpetrated by the Russian state in response to their own systematic doping system being discovered by the work of your own organisation’s McLaren and Pound Reports.
These despicable acts, which included the theft and public release of many athletes’ private medical and anti-doping information (used to try to unfairly ruin these athletes’ reputations), was taken in retaliation to WADA and yet, at the very moment yesterday when it was s confirmed by the FBI and other leading international authorities that these hacking crimes have taken place, WADA has, conspicuously by its absence, failed to issue a public statement condemning this. This, once again, leads us to believe that WADA’s priorities do not lie with the clean athletes, who you claim yet fail to represent. Mr. President, on behalf of the global athlete community, I ask you how much more damning evidence and distressing facts of Russia’s state-supported attempts to disrupt the global anti-doping effort do we have to witness before WADA, and indeed the IOC too, actually stand up and represent us – the majority?
Mr. President, it pains me to say it, but the athlete community is fast losing patience with WADA’s unwillingness to stand up for the interests of clean sport. The call for radical reform of WADA and how it makes its decisions is growing ever-larger.
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