18th November 2021

RUSADA’s leadership battle crucial to RusAF’s reinstatement

Yesterday, the World Athletics Congress approved the continuation of the Russian Athletics Federation’s (RusAF) suspension, following a recommendation made by its Russia Taskforce. It made a recommendation not to reinstate Russia until it has completed its Reinstatement Plan (click here to download), which was accepted by the World Athletics Council in March 2021.

The Annexes to that Reinstatement Plan (click here to download) show that Russia has met most of its requirements. However a 17 November Russia Taskforce Report (below) shows two remaining concerns. The first is that there are still people within Russian athletics who have not embraced the ‘new culture’ of clean sport, which World Athletics accepts that RusAF has worked towards fostering. The second involves the suspended status of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), which the Taskforce notes remains ‘an issue of concern’.

RusAF progress

RusAF said that it is working on the first concern. In a statement, it explained that it now requires all athletes and coaches to pass an online anti-doping knowledge test organised either through RusAF’s ‘Triagonal’ platform; European Athletics’ ‘I run clean’ platform; or the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) ADEL platform, before they can compete. “We are on a difficult path and there is still much to be done”, said RusAF’s Acting President Irina Privalova (Ирина Привалова). “But the main thing that has already been achieved – and this is a fact – there can never be a return to the past”.

However there is nothing that RusAF can do about World Athletics’ second concern. Although the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) cut RUSADA’s sanction, its two year period of non-compliance with the World Anti-Doping Code doesn’t expire until 18 December 2022. The Russia Taskforce outlined its concerns as to whether RUSADA is implementing WADA’s Reinstatement Monitoring Plan, which was shared with RUSADA and the Russian Ministry of Sport in June 2021.

‘It is not clear, however, whether, those reinstatement conditions are being met or whether RUSADA is able to perform its role as the independent Russian NADO effectively’, reads the Taskforce Report. ‘In the meantime, to try to help fill the gap, RusAF has agreed to the AIU [Athletics Integrity Unit] conducting extra testing of RusAF’s athletes, at RusAF’s cost’.

RUSADA politics

Mikhail Bukhanov…

It is understood that both WADA and World Athletics are concerned about whether a requirement for RUSADA to remain independent is being respected. They have good reason to be concerned.

At the end of August 2020, the ‘Founders’ of RUSADA appointed Mikhail Bukhanov (Михаил Буханов) as acting Director General, promising an election by April this year. Bukhanov is still in place, and appears to be the only candidate to replace his predecessor, Yuriy Ganus (Ю́рий Га́нус). 

Yuriy Ganus, former DG of RUSADA…

Ganus was dismissed on 28 August 2020 by RUSADA’s ‘Founders’, the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) and Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC) in controversial circumstances. Exactly a year later, RUSADA’s new Supervisory Board announced an ‘open competition’ for the post of Director General, whilst extending Bukhanov’s tenure until the end of the year. 

The ROC & RPC are amongst the partners of the International Health Centre, one of RUSADA’s two ‘Members’…

How ‘open’ this competition has been is subject to debate. In January, the ROC and RPC were removed as RUSADA’s ‘Founders’, after WADA deemed that they compromises RUSADA’s independence. The Russian bar association (ARLF or АЮР), which was founded in 2005 by State officials, is now one of the two ‘Members’ (the term ‘Founders’ is no longer used) of RUSADA listed on its internet site. The other is the International Health Center (МЦОЗ), which counts the ROC and RPC – RUSADA’s ‘Founders’ – as clients. 

On 25 October, ARLF announced the opening of competition to fill the vacant post of RUSADA Director General. Detailed requirements were only available via application from RUSADA and were to be submitted to a gmail address, not a RUSADA address.

Three days later, on 27 October, ARLF held a ‘general meeting of the Founders (note use of the old term) of RUSADA’, it announced. It was decided that ‘none of the 170-plus announced candidates received the required number of votes’. The application process was extended until 1 November, and Bukhanov remains in place as Acting Director General. How ARLF managed to sift through over 170 applications in just three days hasn’t been explained. 

Bukhanov told RIA Novosti that RUSADA’s status is not included in the Roadmap for the reinstatement of RusAF, and that he regards this as a “temporary tactical success”. RUSADA posted a link to the news article on its internet site. World Athletics has confirmed that, contrary to Bukhanov’s comments, a reinstated RUSADA is crucial for RusAF’s reinstatement. 

World Athletics’ reinstatement conditions specifically require RUSADA to be reinstated (click to open)…

It is true that RusAF’s reinstatement plan doesn’t include any specific requirement that RUSADA must be declared as compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code. However, this is a different document to World Athletics’s conditions for RusAF’s reinstatement. These were revised in December 2020 (click here to download), and specifically require RUSADA to be able to conduct anti-doping operations for RusAF. 

Bukhanov has also lent his support to Ukraine’s National Anti-Doping Center (НАДЦУ), after an investigation by WADA caused the resignation of its leadership. “I would like to wish the Ukrainian Anti-Doping Centre resilience”, he told Sports.ru. “The World Agency belatedly demonstrates international police impartiality with their example after a series of reactionary actions against RUSADA. Unfortunately, this has nothing to do with anti-doping law enforcement. The scheme is primitive: informant, report, media. Soon such a package will become cognitively indifferent for world sports. Günter Younger [Head of WADA’s Investigations] should come up with something different, pay more attention to the quality of the material and informants, and indeed change the methods. I wish the Ukrainians to conduct an internal investigation in the near future and develop a solid legal protection strategy.”

Yakushev was a member of the SKR/Sledcom Public Council…

On 13 November, a further meeting of RUSADA’s ‘Founders’ removed Alexander Yakushev (Александр Якушев), a former ice hockey Player and former national team Coach, from its Supervisory Board. Yakushev was appointed just over a month earlier on 6 October, ARLF announced. 

As reported by The Sports Integrity Initiative, Yakushev was a member of the Public Council of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation (SKR, or Sledcom). WADA’s concern over this was the reason for his removal, reported InsideTheGames.

Yakushev has been replaced by Alexander Zamaziy (Александр Замазий) and Kirill Masliev (Кирилл Маслиев). Zamaziy is Managing Director and Deputy Chairman of the Arbitration Centre of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (РСПП). He is a member of the ARLF, and has worked on drafting Russian State legislation. The РСПП is an old organisation that dates back to the Soviet Union and is headed by Alexander Shokin (Алекса́ндр Шо́хин), a former Deputy Prime Minister.

Masliev is based at the European Medical Centre, which is a 20 minute walk from the offices of one of the МЦОЗ, one of RUSADA’s two ‘Members’…

Masliev is Head of the Outpatient Department at the European Medical Centre (EMC). The EMC was founded in 1989 in partnership with French company Europ Assistance to provide medical assistance to foreigners living in Moscow. It is located less than two kilometres – or a 20 minute walk – from the International Health Centre (МЦОЗ), which alongside the ARLF is listed as the two ‘Members’ of RUSADA, and counts the ROC and RPC – RUSADA’s former ‘Founders’ – as clients.

Hand of God 

Bukhanov was appointed by RUSADA’s ‘Founders’, who were judged by WADA to compromise RUSADA’s independence. Yet he remains in place today, and RUSADA’s two ‘Members’ appear to have links to its previous ‘Founders’. 

Bukahnov claims to be a Minister for the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR). He argues that he sees anti-doping as a mission given to him by God. This suits RUSADA’s ‘Members’ claim as to the Agency’s independence – what could be more independent than a Church Minister?

However, Bukhanov’s actions belie his claims. Did God tell him to criticise WADA for its investigations into the Ukraine? To spread false information about a “tactical success” regarding RusAF’s reinstatement plan?

On 15 September, WADA Management met Russia’s Ministry of Sport in Istanbul about RUSADA’s reinstatement…

It is highly significant that neither Bukhanov or any member of RUSADA was at a 15 September meeting between Russia’s Ministry of Sport and WADA management. One of the topics discussed was the appointment of a new RUSADA Director General. Bukhanov was in Ozersk (Озёрск) in the Chelyabinsk Oblast (Челя́бинская о́бласть), signing an agreement with a hockey club for veterans of Russian special forces. 

It would appear that WADA has already made up its mind about who Bukhanov is representing. World Athletics apparently has similar concerns. Given the Russian State’s history of interference with anti-doping, both have every right to proceed with caution.

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