22nd March 2018

RUSADA reinstatement has stalled, Reedie tells WADA Symposium

The reinstatement of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) has stalled due to no progress on the remaining conditions set out in the Roadmap To Compliance, said World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) President Sir Craig Reedie at the WADA Symposium yesterday. “We made an offer to senior Russian officials in Pyeongchang to visit the Moscow laboratory together but it seems our offer has fallen on deaf ears”, Reedie said, reported The Guardian. “We have also written to the Russian Investigatory Committee four times to offer our help and we have not had a single response”.

The remaining urine samples held at the Moscow Laboratory are still under the protection of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation (SKR or Sledcom), which launched an investigation into allegations of Russian doping on 8 June 2016. Access to the samples is one of the remaining 12 conditions set out in WADA’s Roadmap to Compliance that must be fulfilled before RUSADA can be reinstated as compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code. However, whether those samples would still be useful is subject to question.

In August last year, WADA outlined that 12 conditions still needed to be met for RUSADA to be reinstated. These included:

• The Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), RUSADA and the Ministry of Sport must accept the conclusions of the McLaren Reports;
• The Russian government must allow access to urine samples stored in the Moscow Laboratory;
• RUSADA must install a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) team;
• RUSADA must cover the cost of UK Anti-Doping’s (UKAD) presence in Russia to oversee testing whilst it is suspended, and also the cost of two international experts stationed in Russia;
• RUSADA must be autonomous from the Russian government.

It is not clear from media coverage of the WADA Symposium how many of these 12 conditions have been met. Asked why RUSADA was not acknowledging the conclusions of the McLaren Reports, the new head of RUSADA, Yuri Ganus, told The Guardian: “It’s not a question that depends on us […] it’s about negotiation.” A legal challenge to RUSADA’s continued suspension is a possibility, said Russia’s Minister of Sport, Pavel Kolobkov, yesterday.

RUSADA’s continued suspension means that international federations can suspend Russia from competing in their events for not being compliant with the Code by not having an adequate testing system in place. At present, the Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF) and Paralympic Committee (RPC) are suspended from competing in events sanctioned by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC). Those suspensions remain in place.

Acceptance of the conclusions of the McLaren Reports looks unlikely. Just ten days after launching its initial investigation into Russian doping, the SKR charged Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, former Director of the Moscow Laboratory, with abuse of power under Russia’s Criminal Code. In July 2016, it suggested that he was at the centre of an illegal trade involving importing substances prohibited in sport from the USA.

In November 2016, Russia amended its Criminal Code to allow criminal sanctions against those who induce athletes to dope. This referred to any intentional action to promote the use of a prohibited substance or method by an athlete, ‘including by means of deception, persuasion, advice, guidance and suggestion’.

In November last year, the SKR refuted the reports produced for WADA by Richard McLaren and denied the existence of a State doping programme. It also said that it had collected enough evidence to extradite and charge Dr. Rodchenkov under its Criminal Code.

It also alleged that people working alongside McLaren, Rodchenkov and his former assistant at the Laboratory, Tim Sobolevsky, had offered financial rewards to Russians in return for the supply of the Moscow Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) to WADA. ‘In this regard, in relation to Rodchenkov, Sobolevsky and other yet unidentified persons, they will be prosecuted for obstructing the preliminary investigation (Art. 2, Art. 94 of the Criminal Code)’, reads the statement (PDF below). The SKR has never specified an end date to its investigation.

Other issues

Funding was once again on the agenda. Reedie welcomed an 8% increase in WADA’s £20 million annual budget, reports The Guardian, but more money is needed to follow up on whistleblower allegations, outlined WADA Director General Olivier Niggli. It is reported that since the launch of its Speak Up! whistleblower programme at the Symposium a year ago, WADA has only been able to follow up on 12% of the complaints. As previously reported by The Sports Integrity Initiative, questions remain as to whether more money equals better anti-doping, or just more anti-doping.

The Independent reports that WADA is researching how artificial intelligence can be used to combat doping in sport by detecting patterns in the data collected by anti-doping organisations. It is understood that WADA will launch a call for research pilot projects into the area over the coming weeks.

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