19th May 2017

Russia faces race against time ahead of Pyeongchang 2018

Russia faces a race against time to ensure that the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) is compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code, otherwise it could face exclusion from the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics. Under plans outlined at its Foundation Board meeting yesterday, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) would be able to sanction signatories that it deems non-compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code. WADA plans to have this ‘graded sanctioning framework’ in place prior to the start of Pyeongchang 2018 on 9 February next year, which would take any decision on Russia’s participation out of the hands of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

At the 2017 WADA Symposium in March, Chairman of WADA’s Compliance Review Committee (CRC) Jonathan Taylor pointed out that Code compliance is a condition of membership of the Olympic movement. In the presentation below, Taylor outlines that National Anti-Doping Organisations (NADOs) and National Olympic Committees (NOCs) acting as NADOs would be monitored for Code compliance under WADA’s plans. WADA currently deems RUSADA as not compliant with the Code, which means Russia would not be able to take part in the Winter Olympics if WADA’s plans were in place today.

Russia therefore faces a race against time to restore RUSADA to Code compliance before WADA implements its ‘graded sanctioning framework’, otherwise it will miss Pyeongchang 2018. “WADA will keep working with Russia to help them return to compliance as soon as possible, which we are resolutely focused on doing”, said WADA’s Director General, Olivier Niggli, in a statement. “WADA, UKAD and our independent experts have been working tirelessly with RUSADA and firmly believe that allowing them to restart testing, under supervision, is a right step, in the right direction. Then, it will be a matter for RUSADA to meet the remaining reinstatement criteria that is outlined within an agreed roadmap.”

At WADA’s last Foundation Board meeting in November, it was revealed that RUSADA and the Russian Ministry of Sport had still not accepted the first IP Report compiled by Richard McLaren. WADA said it had not been able to access any of the samples stored at the Moscow laboratory due to an ongoing inquiry by the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation (SKR). The Olympic movement also complained that it has received no communication from the WADA IP about the 100 samples from Sochi 2014 that were sent to London for analysis before the SKR began its investigation.

The IOC chose not to respond to a question about its views on WADA’s plans to take any decision-making on Russia’s Olympic participation out of its hands, however it did welcome moves to establish an Independent Testing Agency (ITA) ahead of Pyeongchang 2018, which it will fund. “The project which was initiated by the IOC in 2015 has come to a good end”, said an IOC spokesperson. “We will now start working with the International Federations to implement this new independent system. For its part, the IOC will do everything to ensure that for the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, testing and sanctioning will be independent from the IOC.”

The IOC faced criticism for its decision not to ban Russia from the Rio 2016 Olympics, but to require each international federation to assess whether Russian athletes were clean. “You need to get something in place so everyone knows what the rules are”, WADA’s Founding President Dick Pound told Reuters. “We would say you’re non-compliant and we advise the IOC and others accordingly. The IOC is then bound by the rules. There is a range of non-compliance. When your rules are not right, then get them in place. But if your conduct is non-compliant that is different and you go right to the nuclear option.”

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