Storm set to descend on WADA as it lifts RUSADA suspension
The World Anti-Doping today invited a storm of protest from across the sporting world after controversially reinstating RUSADA, the Russian anti-doping agency, after it was suspended in 2015 amid a major alleged state-supported doping scandal.
In a brief statement posted on Twitter, Craig Reedie, WADA’s president, said: “Today, the great majority of WADA’s ExCo [executive committee] decided to reinstate RUSADA as compliant with the Code subject to strict conditions, upon recommendation by the Agency’s independent CRC [Compliance Review Committee] and in accordance with an agreed process.
“This decision provides a clear timeline by which WADA must be given access to the former Moscow laboratory data and samples with a clear commitment by the ExCo that should this timeline not be met, it would support the CRC’s recommendation to reinstate non-compliance.”
WADA had earlier rejected claims that it had softened its requirements that Russian officials acknowledge wrongdoing and that they open their facilities for scrutiny by inspectors, saying that its actions were “grounded in pragmatism,” reflected “flexibility,” and were “entirely in line with the RUSADA Roadmap to Compliance” established in 2017.
However, initial Twitter responses were universally damning, including: ‘Shame. Shame. Shame. RIP WADA’; ‘Scandalous’; ‘Absolute disgrace. Every single member of that ExCo should resign. Starting with Craig Reedie’; and ‘Did they pay in dollars or rubles?’
Speaking before the announcement, but anticipating the move after an earlier recommendation from the CRC, Travis Tygart, the outspoken head of the US Anti-Doping agency, told Reuters Television: “The process stinks and it’s been extremely shady how it’s gone about.
"And then substantively you look at the decision and there’s been no fulfilment of the two remaining conditions. It’s why you see outrage by athletes all around the world right now at the possibility that Russia could be reinstated under these circumstances.”
Meanwhile, the athletes’ commission of the IAAF, athletics’ world governing body, said in an open letter to WADA: “The sporting community around the world has spoken and the message is consistent and clear: RUSADA cannot be declared compliant until all outstanding conditions set out in the Roadmap have been satisfied.”
Their voices added to earlier expressions of outrage at the prospect of RUSADA being reinstated from the likes of Linda Helleland, WADA’s own vice-president who is bidding to succeed Reedie as president next year, the Institute of National Anti-Doping Organisations and individual athletes and sports leaders, albeit the International Olympic Committee’s athletes’ commission had announced its support for the move, saying in a tweet that it “agreed in principle with the recommendations made.”
It added: “We would like to see a clear process [in RUSADA’s membership reinstatement] and timeline for receiving and fully verifying the lab data [of the Moscow anti-doping laboratory].”
In a statement last Friday evening, WADA had said that the CRC “reviewed at length a letter from the Russian Ministry of Sport to WADA and was satisfied that this letter sufficiently acknowledged the issues identified in Russia, therefore fulfilling the first of the two outstanding criteria of RUSADA’s Roadmap to Compliance.”
The statement continued: “For the second outstanding criterion, the CRC accepted that the new commitment to provide access to the data and samples in the Moscow laboratory to WADA via an independent expert would be sufficient to justify reinstatement, provided that the ExCo imposes a clear timeline for such access.”
In a subsequent statement, WADA stressed: “Interested stakeholders around the world want the same thing: an effective and sustainable anti-doping system in Russia that sees clean Russian athletes resuming their place in international sport while ensuring the protection of athletes inside and outside of the country. That outcome was never going to be achieved without small degrees of movement on both sides.”
However, WADA’s critics have claimed that movement has come from it alone, and not from the Russian authorities.
Speaking to Reuters, Yuri Ganus, the director general of RUSADA, welcomed the decision, but cautioned: “There’s a lot of work ahead. There are conditions... in order to definitively be reinstated we need to meet these conditions. So it’s a conditional reinstatement.”Sportcal