25 March 2017

WADA fails to update Prohibited Association List to include Russians

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has failed to update its Prohibited Association List to include the names of a number of key Russian officials implicated in its investigations into Russian doping, which may make it difficult for sanctions to be levied against sporting bodies that associate with them, which is prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Code. The inclusion of key Russian officials on the List was one of the key recommendations of its first Independent Commission Report, authored by WADA’s Founding President, Dick Pound.

The recommendation was: ‘That WADA add the names of Grigory Rodchenkov and Sergei Portugalov and coaches Viktor Mikhailovich Chegin, Vladimir Kazarin, Aleksey Melnikov and Valdimir Mokhnev, to its Prohibited Association List’. The latest version of the Prohibited Association List (PDF below), published on 11 November 2016 – a year after the Independent Commission Report – only features race-walking coach Viktor Chegin, who has been banned for life.

The failure to include key figures – such as Dr. Rodchenkov and Dr. Portugalov – implicated in the Russian doping system alleged by WADA may make it difficult for sanctions to be levied against sporting bodies that associate with them. For example, it has been alleged that Dr. Sergei Portugalov worked with Russian athletes after his provisional suspension on 24 August 2015 by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). Dr. Portugalov was listed as one of the medical experts running the Centre of Pathology of the Circulatory System, reports ARD. The Centre’s website listed Dr. Portugalov as heading its Laboratory of Sports Cardiology, which boasts clients such as the All Russian Volleyball Federation and Dynamo Moscow’s ice hockey team.

Dr. Portugalov’s name was removed from the Laboratory of Sports Cardiology’s page on 13 March this year. A page listing the specialists employed by the clinic has also been removed. March 13 was also the date on which the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) sanctioned Portugalov with a life ban from athletics, and was the date of the WADA Symposium, when journalist Hajo Seppelt revealed that Dr. Portugalov was still working with Russian athletes. ARD has published a screenshot of the original page from 13 March, where Dr. Portugalov is listed as running the department.

WADA confirmed that under the World Anti-Doping Code, a provisionally suspended person is barred from participating in any competition or activity prior to a final decision on their suspension. ‘Provisional Suspension means the athlete or other Person is barred temporarily from participating in any Competition or activity prior to the final decision at a hearing’, reads ‘Consequences of Anti-Doping Rule Violations’ on page 133.

Article 2.10 of the Code, entitled Prohibited Association, is clear that athletes and sporting bodies may not associate with a person serving a period of ineligibility (i.e. a ban). As stated above, it also appears clear that Dr. Portugalov’s provisional suspension by the IAAF banned him from working in sport until his final hearing.

However, it does not appear to be clear what sanctions sporting bodies could face for associating with a doctor that is provisionally suspended by a Code signatory (the IAAF). Also, as Dr. Portugalov has been banned for life from athletics by the CAS, the ability for further sanctions to be levied against him appears to have been exhausted.

Dr. Portugalov was also chief of the Russian Athletics Federation’s (RusAF) Medical Commission; held a position at the All-Russian Research Institute of Physical Culture and Sports; and was Deputy Director of VNIIFK – the FSBI Federal Science Centre for Physical Culture and Sport. It was also a requirement of the Independent Commission that he be removed from these positions.

Had Dr. Portugalov’s name been added to WADA’s Prohibited Association List, as recommended by its own Independent Commission, firm action could have been taken against Russian sporting bodies for associating with Dr. Portugalov. Due to this failure, WADA may face difficulties in taking action against sporting bodies that have associated with Dr. Portugalov during his provisional suspension.

• WADA updated the Prohibited Association List on 10 April 2017, following this article. Its arguments as to why it was not updated until then are set out in this article.

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