21st September 2016

WADA argues that it acted correctly over systemic Russian doping

Sir Craig Reedie, President of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), has argued that the agency handled allegations of systemic Russian doping in a correct and timely manner, after WADA was criticised by an International Olympic Committee (IOC) member in an editorial. ‘We have still not had an adequate explanation on why WADA did not act earlier on the situation in Russia when they had been fully alerted to the possible scale of the doping problem as early as 2010’, wrote Gerardo Werthein, an Argentinean IOC member in an editorial for Around The Rings. ‘Nor have we been provided with any serious analysis as to how WADA has let the sports movement and national governments spend major amounts of money on almost 300,000 tests per year and yet find so few of those who appear now to have been cheating’.

Werthein was also critical of what he perceived to be WADA’s attempt to deflect attention away from its own failings in dealing with the Russian situation by attacking the IOC’s decision to allow Russians who could prove they were not ‘tainted’ by systemic Russian doping to compete in the Rio 2016 Olympics. Former WADA Director General David Howman said that WADA should have referred the IOC to its Compliance Review Committee over its decision to allow Russian athletes to compete. “They should have referred the IOC to the independent Compliance Review Committee for consideration over their Russian response, and for their direction to not allow Russian athletes with previous doping sanctions, as that is contrary to the [WADA] Code”, he told Inside the Games.

‘WADA simply did not have actionable evidence to deal with this abuse until the former Moscow laboratory director, Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov – who had been interviewed several times by the Independent Commission, led by Richard Pound, without providing any evidence – brought that evidence forward in May’, writes Reedie in a statement of response. ‘While WADA did have discussions with whistleblowers as early as 2010, it took almost four years for the whistleblowers to develop and provide the corroborated evidence that any investigation would require to proceed. Once WADA had that evidence in hand in December 2014, the Agency immediately launched the Pound Commission in January 2015 when it acquired the legal authority to do so under the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code. And so we can see that, once WADA had the necessary investigatory powers, the Agency used those powers responsibly and effectively by establishing the Pound Commission and then the McLaren Investigation.’

Reedie wrote his response at a WADA ‘Think Tank’ meeting, at which participants ‘agreed that WADA must be appropriately empowered to build on its successes’. “It was particularly encouraging to hear from IOC representatives in the room who confirmed that the Olympic movement has no intention to dilute WADA, but rather a willingness to reinforce its independence and regulatory powers”, said Reedie in a statement that followed the meeting.

On 17 October 2015, an Olympic Summit hosted by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided that anti-doping should be entirely separate from sport. WADA has been asked by the IOC to convene an ‘Extraordinary World Conference on Doping’ in 2017 about how this will occur, and an Olympic Summit on 8 October 2016 is expected to elaborate on how this will happen.

Werthein’s comments are understood to illustrate what some IOC members are thinking – that WADA did not act quickly enough and, as the above statements continue to perpetuate, it has not examined its own failings in dealing with the Russian situation. He is not alone in his views. Jack Robertson, WADA’s former Chief Investigator, has previously claimed that his efforts to investigate Russian doping were repeatedly delayed by Reedie, who preferred to privately settle matters with Russian officials.

WADA’s failings include:

1. Failing to investigate why Russia reported not a single adverse analytical finding (AAF) from any of its athletes at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.
2. WADA wrote to Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, Director of the Sochi 2014 laboratory, informing him that a ‘surprise’ inspection was due to take place (p42 of the WADA IP Report). This resulted in the destruction of 8,000 of 10,000 stored samples held at the laboratory.
3. WADA failed to follow up on the Independent Observer report from the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, which highlighted state interference in the laboratory.
4. The WADA IP Report has a number of inconsistencies that WADA has failed to explain.

As previously reported on The Sports Integrity Initiative, the IOC and WADA received substantial evidence concerning systemic Russian doping in 2013. In November 2015, we reported on how the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) had been investigating systemic Russian doping since April 2014 – possibly as far back as July 2013. In January, we reported how letters from the IAAF to the Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF – then ARAF) had shown concerns about systemic doping in 2009.TableTwo2001

The blood database obtained and analysed by Hajo Seppelt dates back to 2001 and allegedly revealed widespread doping across sport. A 2011 study published on the IAAF’s internet site, involving analysis of samples taken back in 2001, reveals (Table 2, right) that certain countries may have had an issue with doping. Yet it appears that nobody investigated until Seppelt’s December 2014 documentary.

WADA has consistently claimed that it did not have the power to investigate systemic Russian doping until the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code came into force on 1 January of that year. However, Article 20.7 of the 2009 World Anti-Doping Code required WADA to ‘monitor Code compliance by signatories’ and to ‘cooperate with relevant national and international organizations and agencies, including but not limited to, facilitating inquiries and investigations’. WADA carried out investigations prior to 2015, such as the one it conducted into Lance Armstrong.

In his statement, Reedie explains that he is ‘baffled’ by views that WADA’s reaction to allegations of systemic doping in Russia is part of the problem. However, as this article has attempted to illustrate, a number of serious questions remain for Reedie and WADA to clear up if comparisons with Emperor Nero are to be avoided.

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