War of words over missed Moscow lab deadline continues
A war of words over the World Anti-Doping Agency’s response to Russia missing a deadline to open the Moscow anti-doping laboratory to scrutiny is continuing, with Jonathan Taylor, chair of WADA’s independent Compliance Review Committee, accused of being “out of touch with athlete opinion and the public mood.”
Taylor had responded to multiple calls for the immediate re-suspension of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency and, perhaps, for further sanctions, by defending delaying a decision until a scheduled meeting on 14 January.
In a letter, Taylor said that the meeting was scheduled “to ensure that there was time for a full report to be provided by the WADA compliance taskforce and considered by the CRC in advance of the meeting, setting out the position and explaining the reasons for any non-compliance.”
Critics had pointed out that WADA has previously employed a fast-track procedure in such cases, but Taylor responded by saying: “In addition, in cases of non-compliance, the special fast-track procedure also requires WADA to give the Russian authorities a fair opportunity to make a submission for the consideration of the CRC.
“It might be said that there is nothing to be considered, the non-compliance is plain, the reasons are irrelevant, so following due process is futile and therefore unnecessary, but the courts do not like such arguments, and therefore the risk of successful challenge would be significant, which I don't think anyone would want.”
However, in a second open letter to Taylor, athlete activist Sebastian Samuelsson, the PyeongChang 2018 winter Olympics biathlon silver medallist, continued to press for the immediate re-imposition of the suspension.
He wrote that “history remembers the visionaries, believers and idealists that stand for something and create change. History does not remember the bank managers and bureaucrats. Through its obsession with seeking legal loopholes, nuances, compromises and political games, WADA, and now its Compliance Committee is fast becoming the bank manager, with its relentless obsession on using bureaucracy as a cover for the bigger picture issues.”
Meanwhile, the International Olympic Committee’s athletes’ commission, originally a supporter of WADA’s controversial move to provisionally end RUSADA’s initial suspension in September last year, has indicated it would support fresh sanctions on Russia.
In a statement, the commission said: “As members of the IOC Athletes' Commission, we are extremely disappointed and concerned by the fact that RUSADA has missed the deadline. We expect the CRC in its meeting...to make the appropriate recommendations to the WADA Executive Committee in the light of its decision of September 2018.
“These recommendations should lead to immediate measures and actions.”
The Moscow 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.