World Anti-Doping Agency to continue Rusada ban
The World Anti-Doping Agency’s (Wada) compliance review committee are expected to recommend that the suspension that has been in place since 2015 is kept in place Russia’s for anti-doping agency (Rusada). The independent panel feels the Russians are not following agreed conditions.
The independent body tasked with ensuring Russia complies with the ‘Roadmap to Compliance’ is expected to advise the Anti-Doping Agency that Russia have not complied with the terms of the agreement made in November 2015.
Rusada was implicated in a state-sponsored doping programme between 2011 and 2015 which covered over 30 sports and involved thousands of athletes. When Dr Richard McLaren authored a report into allegations made by the whistle-blower, the former head of Russia’s national anti-doping laboratory, Grigory Rodchenkov, its findings shocked the sporting world.
The report told stories of “mouse holes” that were drilled into the testing labs and how agents would swap samples for clean frozen ones held in freezers. They found evidence of destruction of samples in the laboratories and proof of payments to conceal doping tests.
As a result of the inquest into the actions of Rusada, the sporting history books have been re-written many times over the last ten years. Russia has been by far the biggest loser in respect to medals lost with 48 reversals. Russia accounts for 33% of all medals that have been reassigned by the International Olympic Committee. Former British heptathlete Kelly Sotherton was the beneficiary of such a reversal this week, 10 years after the Beijing Olympics.
Russia’s failure to adhere to the ‘Roadmap to Compliance’ agreement has dismayed many in sport but athletics particularly has long lived under the shadow of the suspicion of widespread doping. It was hoped that if Russia accepting training, separated itself from funding from the Kremlin and opened its laboratories to independent inspection, then they could make a clean start and athletics as a whole could start repairing its tarnished reputation.
The breakdown of the agreement is mainly down to two issues; failure for inspectors to have access to testing facilities and Rusada’s reluctance to admit that the doping offenses were state sponsored.
Recently, Wada have had their authority undermined by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). 28 Russian athletes who had been banned by Wada had their bans overturned, with the court stating that the there was insufficient evidence that the athletes had broken anti-doping rules at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi. They also reduced sanctions against a further 11 Russians, halving their ban to four years. The ruling was a blow to Wada who was desperate to be seen as tackling institutionalised doping.
No decision has been made on whether to reinstate Rusada. The vote will be made by the World Anti-Doping Agency on 20th September. However they are unlikely to ignore the damming evidence contained in the reports nor are they likely to not hear the shouts demanding sport be kept free of drugs.
Over 30 British athletes have contacted Wada president Sir Craig Reedle asking the Executive Committee to vote to maintain Wada’s current position. They stated Rusada’s return would be a catastrophe for clean sport, ending the message saying that athletes would no longer have faith in the system if Rusada was reinstated.