6th August 2020

RUSADA Supervisory Board recommends removal of Ganus

The Supervisory Board of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) has recommended the removal of its Director General, Yuriy Ganus (Ю́рий Га́нус). The recommendation follows an audit commissioned by RUSADA’s Founders, which alleges financial irregularities at RUSADA. Ganus disputes the audit’s findings.

“Unfortunately, our fears have been confirmed”, said Stanislav Pozdnyakov (Станислав Поздняков), President of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), listed as one of the Founders of RUSADA, in a statement. “The members of the Supervisory Board, which is an independent body composed of specialists – most of whom are recommended and approved by WADA – have come to the conclusion that the violations committed by RUSADA’s management are very serious. And today’s decision of the Supervisory Board adopted almost unanimously, about distrust in RUSADA Director General Yuriy Ganus and the inexpediency of the retention of his position, looks unambiguous.”

Background

RUSADA was declared non-compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code for a four year period, after WADA found alterations had been made to the Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) it retrieved from the Moscow Laboratory on 17 January 2019. ‘One of the conditions of reinstatement will be that WADA remains satisfied throughout the four year period that RUSADA’s independence is being respected and there is no improper interference with its operations’, read a statement issued on 9 December last year.

WADA said that it would ‘seek further clarification from the Russian authorities and consider any other steps that may be required after discussing the matter with the CRC [Compliance Review Committee]’ in a statement released yesterday. WADA expressed concern about the RUSADA Supervisory Board’s action, adding that it had written to Alexander Ivlev (Александр Ивлев), its Chairman, on 21 July about interference in RUSADA’s operations. ‘WADA received a reply from Mr. Ivlev on 21 July but the Agency’s questions were not answered and our concerns were not allayed’, it added.

The Supervisory Board decided to appeal WADA’s decision to declare RUSADA non-compliant with the Code on 20 December, a decision that Ganus warned highlighted its lack of independence. As RUSADA is currently declared as non-compliant with the Code and is appealing WADA’s decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), it is difficult to see what ‘other steps’ the CRC could recommend.

Independence – pot, kettle…

Pozdnyakov’s statement is interesting for three reasons. First of all, he claims that the RUSADA Supervisory Board is “independent”. This is disputed by Ganus, who is not a member of the Supervisory Board. 

The Supervisory Board is chaired by businessman Alexander Ivlev (Александр Ивлев), who is a member of the Ministry of Economic Development of the Public Council of Russia. Its Vice Chairman is Vladimir Chekhonin (Влади́мир Чехо́нин), a member of the Presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences. 

The Supervisory Board also features Sergey Khrychikov (Сергей Хрычиков), Head of the Sports Conventions Division of the Council of Europe and Secretary of the European Committee for WADA (CAHAMA); Andrey Minyaev (Андрей Миняев) a former Director of the Legal Department at the Russian Ministry of Sport; athlete Yelena Isinbaeva (Елена Исинбаева), an Instructor on track and field for the Russian army (CSKA); Sergey Ryazansky (Серге́й Ряза́нский), a Russian cosmonaut; and Andrey Strokin (Андре́й Стро́кин), Secretary General of the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC), which along with the ROC is listed as RUSADA’s founders.

It had been understood that Minyaev has been replaced, as he no longer works for the Ministry of Sport’s Legal Department, however he is still listed as Director of its Legal Department on RUSADA’s internet site. Irrespective of this, the presence of a former Director of the Russian Ministry of Sport’s Legal Department and of one of two RUSADA Founders on the Supervisory Board leads to questions as to whether it is “independent”, as claimed by Pozdnyakov. 

Which brings us to the second interesting part of his statement. This is that most of the seven members of RUSADA’s Supervisory Board were approved by WADA. Which ones were not? WADA’s statement is critical of the ROC and RPC for interfering in RUSADA’s governance, yet it is understood that the presence of both the Ministry of Sport and the RPC on its Supervisory Board was approved by WADA. The Olympic Movement makes up 50% of WADA’s Foundation Board.

A set up?

The third interesting revelation from Pozdnyakov’s statement is that the recommendation that Ganus should be dismissed was not unanimous. Khrychikov told TASS that he had voted against Ganus’ removal. This is significant due to Khrychikov’s position on the Council of Europe and within CAHAMA. It would appear that he trusts Ganus’ contention that he is being set up.

The audit (PDF below) is only available in Russian in image format and a request for the original, sent to Finexpertiza, was ignored. It was published by the ROC on 13 July, after its details were published via social networks. RUSADA then questioned the ROC’s motives in publishing the audit, which was marked as strictly confidential.

Ganus alleges that the audit is the latest development in a plan to discredit him, begun last year. As previously reported, Ganus denies the audit’s findings of financial impropriety at RUSADA. He posted ‘Song of the Stormy Petrel’, a 1901 revolutionary poem by Maxim Gorky about courage in the face of adversity, on Twitter yesterday.

In a 22 July Open Letter, he outlined that originals can be provided to refute the audit’s findings that documents were forged, arguing that the auditors never requested them. He clarifies that RUB11.35 million (€130,500) was spent by RUSADA on taxis in 2018 and 2019, but this bill was for RUSADA’s entire staff and was not spent by him alone, as the audit claims.

He also points out that in 2013, Finexpertiza was found to have violated Russian law on auditing standards. He also alleges that there was a recent attempt to hack into a section of RUSADA’s website on which its arguments refuting the audit’s findings were being developed. 

If the audit is an attempt to set Ganus up, it would appear to be a clumsy one. Ganus hasn’t made it clear why the ROC or RPC are keen to have him removed from office if the allegations against him are false, as he claims. 

Ganus also strongly disputes allegations that he has failed to get to the bottom of serious accusations of doping in Chuvashia. RUSADA refused to assist with the compilation of a Report into allegations of systemic doping within the Republic, which it had been investigating since June 2017. The Report was heavily critical of RUSADA’s investigatory techniques. 

Although Ganus hasn’t implicitly said so (criticism of the State doesn’t go down well in Russia), the insinuation is that the campaign to discredit him began last year because the State didn’t want what was going on in Chuvashia exposed. Whether this is accurate is anyone’s guess. But if it is, the Supervisory Board’s vote for his dismissal suggests that it is under State control.

Ganus has made it clear that neither he nor RUSADA were involved with the manipulations of the Moscow LIMS discovered by WADA. Yet as WADA only has jurisdiction over RUSADA, it can only punish RUSADA. What is certain is that positioning Ganus as an independent defender of clean sport in Russia would support RUSADA’s appeal against WADA’s decision to declare it non-complaint with the World Anti-Doping Code. 

Ganus’ very public ‘persecution’ could cement his position as an an independent defender of clean sport in Russia. If he is under the control of the Russian State, then this could be exactly what it wants. 

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