28 August 2020

Yuriy Ganus dismissed as RUSADA Director General

The Founders of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) and Paralympic Committee (RPC), have dismissed Yuriy Ganus (Ю́рий Га́нус) as Director General. The decision was taken at a RUSADA Founders meeting today, hosted by the ROC, following a a recommendation from RUSADA’s Supervisory Board. 

Margarita Pakhnotskaya resigned as RUSADA’s Deputy Director General…

The recommendation followed an audit commissioned by the Founders, which alleged financial irregularities at RUSADA. Ganus disputes the audit’s findings, and alleged that RUSADA’s Charter was changed by RUSADA’s Supervisory Board to prevent his deputy, Margarita Pakhnotskaya (Маргарита Пахноцкая) from taking over his position. 

Pakhnotskaya resigned earlier this week. ‘WADA also notes the resignations earlier this week of RUSADA’s Deputy Director General, Margarita Pakhnotskaya; and, the independent international expert member of RUSADA’s Supervisory Board, Sergey Khrychikov’, added a statement published by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) today. Khrychikov is Head of the Sport Conventions Division of the Council of Europe. WADA and the Institute of National Anti-Doping Organisations (iNADO) had previously expressed concern about the situation.

RUSADA’s Founders appointed Mikhail Bukhanov (Михаил Буханов) as acting CEO of RUSADA. The ROC’s statement mentions that he is head of RUSADA’s Legal Department, however a search for his name on RUSADA’s internet site returns no results. An internet search for his name in connection to RUSADA, from January 2020 up to yesterday, also returns no results. It is understood that a new Director General will be appointed within six months.

‘With RUSADA’s non-compliance case pending before the Court of Arbitration for Sport, WADA will continue to monitor RUSADA’s developments closely’, continued WADA’s statement. ‘It is a critical element of the World Anti-Doping Code that National Anti-Doping Organizations, such as RUSADA, remain safe from interference in their operational decisions and activities in order to conduct their work independently and effectively. This is why the CRC [Compliance Review Committee], when it issued its recommendation to declare RUSADA non-compliant with the Code that was unanimously endorsed by the Agency’s Executive Committee on 9 December 2019, made it a condition of RUSADA’s reinstatement that WADA remains satisfied that RUSADA’s independence is being respected and there is no improper outside interference with its operations. The current situation will be monitored in light of this condition.’

RUSADA yesterday released a 28 page document defending its progress in anti-doping ahead of today’s meeting. The document highlights that although the number of anti-doping tests performed by RUSADA has decreased, mass testing has been abandoned in favour of targeted tests, resulting in a rise in anti-doping rule violations (ADRVs). 

Interestingly, the document mentions that prior to Ganus’s appointment, the data entered into WADA’s Anti-Doping Administration and Management System (ADAMS) didn’t always match the data in RUSADA’s Annual Reports. It would appear that the number of samples taken for the Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) programme indicated in the Annual Reports doesn’t match the numbers entered into ADAMS. 

It appears that RUSADA manipulated its testing figures…

The Sports Integrity Initiative discovered similar discrepancies between RUSADA’s Annual Reports in 2016. They all occurred before Ganus was appointed as Director General of RUSADA on 25 August 2017 on a four year contract. Article 8.3 of the RUSADA Charter mandates that the Director General is appointed for four years, and not for more than two terms. 

The document (PDF below) also highlights a huge growth in the number of RUSDA investigations from eight in 2017 to 13 in 2018, and 94 in 2019. It mentions the 74 cases opened in relation to investigations into ADRVs in the Chuvash Republic, which RUSADA has said it is still working on. RUSADA has yet to announce any sanctions in relation to the Chuvash investigation, however it is understood to be waiting to receive decisions from its Disciplinary Panel. Now that Ganus has been dismissed, it will be interesting to see if RUSADA publicises them.

Answers must be required

Dr. Rodchnkov’s book…

Discrepancies in RUSADA’s Annual Reports are not surprising, given the manipulation of the doping control system by the Russian State that was orchestrated through Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, former Director of the Moscow Laboratory, for many years. But there are also discrepancies with Ganus’s answers to some of the charges alleged in the audit commissioned by RUSADA’s founders – charges which Ganus strenuously denies.

Embezzlement of State funds, of which the audit alleges Ganus is guilty, is a serious crime in any country. As such, one would expect criminal charges to be levied against Ganus. If such charges are not forthcoming, a cynic might question whether the allegations made in the audit are underpinned by facts.

Equally, for the ROC and RPC to spuriously remove Ganus at this point in time would be extremely risky. RUSADA is currently challenging WADA’s suspension of its compliance with the World Anti-Doping Code; the suspended Tokyo 2020 Olympics are fast approaching; and the Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF) is seeking re-integration into World Athletics. To remove Ganus on trumped up charges could jeopardise RUSADA’s appeal, Russia’s participation at Tokyo 2020, and RusAF’s reintegration.

The Moscow Laboratory…

WADA took the decision to suspend WADA’s compliance with the World Anti-Doping Code due to manipulations of the Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) retrieved from the Moscow Laboratory. It didn’t blame RUSADA for this, as there was no indication that RUSADA was involved. However, one of the conditions for RUSADA’s reinstatement was that WADA management must remain satisfied that RUSADA’s independence is being respected and that there is no outside interference with its operations.

Whether the removal of Ganus by RUSADA’s Founders falls into the category of ‘outside interference’ is debatable. RUSADA’s Founders should now be required to prove that his dismissal was necessary to protect clean sport in Russia. How they will do that is anyone’s guess, but answers must be required.

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