WADA - and IOC - under fire over missed deadline for access to Moscow lab
This week's news that Russia had missed a deadline to give access to inspectors to the Moscow laboratory at the centre of the country’s doping scandal - and the International Olympic Committee’s apparent refusal to condemn Russian authorities - provoked a strong response from a range of sport’s stakeholders.
John Treacy, chief executive of Sport Ireland, led criticism of the IOC. Responding to remarks by IOC president Thomas Bach signalling that Russia will not be banned from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, even if RUSADA, the Russian Anti-Doping Agency, is suspended for a second time, Treacy said on Wednesday: “Comments made yesterday by the president of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, which are extremely unhelpful, demonstrate why the IOC are out of touch with athletes.
“The comments also underline why the IOC should not be involved in the decision making when it comes to matters of anti-doping. It is now up to WADA to act decisively and quickly, otherwise there will be no consequence for a country that has been proven to operate a systematic doping regime.”
Bach had suggested that Russia had served its sentence when its athletes were barred from representing their country at last year’s winter Olympics in South Korea, saying: “In PyeongChang we sanctioned the systematic manipulation of the anti-doping system in Russia during the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014. The IOC sanctioned those entities involved, proportional to their levels of responsibility – with its suspension from PyeongChang 2018, the Russian Olympic Committee has served its sanction.”
The World Anti-Doping Agency itself also came under fire, with a group of influential national anti-doping agencies accusing it of presiding over “more than three years of review, indecision and compromise in response to the worst doping scandal in the history of sport.”
In a statement, the NADOs said: “A return to international sport should only be considered for Russia once full confidence in a clean Russian sporting culture is restored – in other words, only once WADA has received and verified the electronic LIMS data as well as access to the samples in the Moscow Laboratory.”
The statement was signed by the NADOs of Ireland, Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Singapore, Sweden, and USA.
Separately, Travis Tygart, the outspoken chief executive of the US Anti-Doping Agency, said: “The situation is a total joke and an embarrassment for WADA and the global anti-doping system. In September WADA secretly moved the goal-posts and reinstated Russia against the wishes of athletes, governments and the public. In doing this WADA guaranteed Russia would turn over the evidence of its state-supported doping scheme.
“No one is surprised this deadline was ignored and it’s time for WADA to stop being played by the Russians and immediately declare them non-compliant for failing yet again to meet the deadline.”
Callum Skinner, Great Britain’s gold medal-winning track cyclist and a member of the British Olympic Association’s athletes’ commission, was one of many athletes to voice frustration, telling the Daily Mail: "I think the first message it sends [to Russia] is that you can get away this.
“The second message it sends, from a welfare point of view, is that ultimately the interests of a nation that is one of the biggest partners of the Olympic Games, that constantly hosts competitions around the world when it's getting tougher to get nations to host these expensive sporting events, is that those interests are going to be put forward first, ahead of athlete welfare.
“What we've seen so far is they [WADA] have taken an approach of compromise and goodwill with the Russian government, which we [athletes] have advised them against, and been proven correct in that advice. What we need now is more of a hardline approach. WADA’s made a compromise too many in this instance, it's time to stick by the facts.”
RUSADA now looks certain to face suspension for a second time after WADA inspectors were denied full access to the Moscow laboratory by a deadline WADA had set of 31 December, 2018, one of two prescribed conditions for RUSADA to retain its certification of compliance with the World Anti-Doping Code.
WADA had come under heavy pressure over its controversial decision in September to end the suspension of RUSADA, without first gaining access to the lab.
WADA’s own athlete committee said in a statement: “We are extremely disappointed that the Dec. 31 deadline imposed on Russia by WADA has not been adhered to by the Russian authorities. We now expect that following the process recommended by the CRC [WADA’s independent Compliance Review Committee] that Russia will be declared non-compliant. Only this action will be suitable and appropriate in the view of the athletes. Anything less will be considered a failure by WADA to act on behalf of clean athletes.”The lab has been closed since the Russian doping scandal broke in 2015. It was alleged to have been part of a sophisticated conspiracy to open apparently sealed sample bottles and substitute clean urine for urine showing evidence of use of banned performance-enhancing drugs.