iNADO: Clean athletes frustrated with IOC's equivocal stance on Russian doping
Olympics - 23 Feb 2018
The Institute of National Anti-Doping Organisations today warned the International Olympic Committee in a hard-hitting open letter not to lift the restrictions it has placed on ‘Olympic Athletes from Russia’ for the closing ceremony of the PyeongChang winter Olympic Games.
The institute has been one of the most trenchant critics of the Russia doping scandal that unfolded over the last two years, and of the IOC’s response to it, and it has chosen a moment when the IOC is already under worldwide scrutiny over its attitude to the scandal to make its latest intervention.
In the letter, iNADO said that it was “alarmed… at recent reports that if true, suggest the IOC is prepared to put ahead of clean athletes and the integrity of sport the interests of Russia, by inviting the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) to participate in the Closing Ceremonies.”
Citing a remark by Nicole Hoevertsz, the IOC executive board member and chair of the Olympic Athletes of Russia Implementation Group, iNADO expressed concern that “a deal may already be in place.” Hoevertsz, said, according to iNADO: “The [IOC] executive committee has the explicit wish to lift the suspension of Russia during these games.”
Sources “familiar with the matter at the PyeongChang Games” told Reuters that only a minority of IOC officials did not want to restore Russia’s national status for the ceremony on Sunday.
Moreover, the Russian Olympic Committee said yesterday that it had paid a $15-million fine that was thought to be one of the conditions of the lifting of the restrictions, and that it would help develop international anti-doping efforts.
However, a new positive doping test by an OAR athlete appears to throw the status of the team for the closing ceremony into doubt again. Russian bobsledder Nadezha Sergeeva is reported to have tested positive for a banned heart medication. Her case follows that of Aleksandr Krushelnitckii, part of the mixed OAR curling pair who were stripped of the bronze medal they won earlier in the games.
Addressing IOC members directly, iNADO’s open letter said: “Regardless of what you may hope, you can’t merely ‘wish away’ the most significant fraud in the history of sport. A transgression of such magnitude warrants a proportional sanction which must go well beyond an irregular attendance at the PyeongChang Games and paying a fine.
“By failing to impose a meaningful sanction on the ROC, the IOC would be culpable in this effort to defraud clean athletes of the world. Clean athletes continue to raise concerns and are understandably frustrated with the equivocal stance of the IOC when it comes to the systemic doping in Russia.”
The letter continued: “You may feel that the ROC is part of the Olympic family, and deserves to be welcomed back into the Olympic house. We would argue that Olympic Moments have been stolen by doped members of past Russian contingents with no acknowledgement of responsibility by the ROC nor indication of contrition; the sanction must align with the IOC ‘zero tolerance for doping’ policy.
“Who deserves your support more? An organisation from a supremely powerful and accomplished country which over multiple Games took doped teams and to this day has offered no apology or evidence of attempts to reconcile; Or, is it the multitudes of athletes who were deprived of their Olympic moments and who rightfully expect proportional punishment for doping transgressions.”
In the letter, iNADO demanded that sanctions on the ROC should be maintained “until such time as the ROC:
• “acknowledges the findings of the McLaren, Schmidt and Oswald Commissions
• “demonstrates contrition and apologises for the harm created
• “reinforces the WADA Roadmap for RUSADA [Russian anti-doping agency] compliance
• “calls for a ceasing of all attacks on the whistleblowers and undertakes efforts to guarantee their safety
• “takes action to bring about the turning over to WADA of the samples, evidence and data from the Moscow laboratory
• “adheres to the additional conditions imposed by the IOC such as the payment of the requisite fine.”
In December, the IOC ruled that selected ‘clean’ Russian athletes could take part in the PyeongChang winter Olympics, but only under the name ‘Olympic Athlete from Russia’, wearing uniforms bearing this name, and competing under the Olympic flag, with the Olympic anthem to be played at any ceremony.
The ruling followed a major doping scandal in Russian sport centred on the Sochi 2014 winter Olympics. However, the IOC did suggest that if the OAR delegation abided by a strict set of criteria during the games, the restrictions might be lifted for the closing ceremony.