WADA lifts suspension on Russia’s anti-doping agency but with conditions

first_imgThe World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has voted, subject to certain conditions, to lift the ban on Russia’s anti-doping authority (RUSADA), which was suspended in 2015 following allegations of widespread state-sponsored doping.In a widely-expected but heavily-criticised decision, WADA said that one of the key sticking points – access to stored urine samples at RUSADA’s Moscow laboratory – still needed to be provided.The suspension could be reintroduced if this did not happen within “a clear timeline”, it added.”Today, the great majority of the WADA Executive Committee (EXCO) decided to reinstate RUSADA as compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code, subject to strict conditions,” WADA President Craig Reedie said following a meeting in the Seychelles.Russian sports minister Pavel Kolobkov told the Russian state news agency Tass that he was sure “sooner or later, the WADA compliance committee would recognize the huge amount of work which has been done in Russia to fight doping.””We have always strived for cooperation and have done everything required of us, bearing in mind our legal norms. We are open to the maximum because we have nothing to hide,” Kolobkov said.The document obtained by the BBC said WADA would accept Russia admitting to conclusions in an IOC investigation instead of a more critical report by WADA-appointed investigator Richard McLaren.But, according to the document, Kolobkov did not agree to the change, instead restating to the committee that the country couldn’t admit wrongdoing until its own investigation and legal process had been resolved.Travis Tygart, the CEO of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, called on WADA to release any information it has received from Russia that shows it has met the criteria.advertisement”Frankly, it stinks to high heaven,” Tygart said. “Today, WADA has unequivocally told the world the type of organization it is: One that supports the desires of a handful of sports administrators over the rights of millions of clean athletes. It is a sad state of affairs for this one-time respected organization.”The recommendation goes against the pleas of a number of British athletes, who tweeted Thursday , urging WADA to stand by its roadmap for RUSADA’s reinstatement.At this point, the reinstatement could be seen as more symbolic than material. WADA has gradually restored many of RUSADA’s functions, including its ability to coordinate one of the world’s largest testing operations with help of officials from Britain and elsewhere.Reinstatement of RUSADA is, however, one of the international track federation’s criteria for allowing Russia’s track team back into compliance; last year, Russia’s track athletes competed as “authorized neutral athletes” at world championships.WADA has also made a rule that doesn’t allow sports federations to accept bids to host international events from countries whose anti-doping agencies aren’t compliant. FIFA staged the World Cup in Russia this summer.RUSADA was suspended in November 2015 after an independent WADA report carried out by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren outlined evidence of massive state-backed, systematic doping in Russian athletics.The allegations, which Moscow has denied, led to Russia being banned from this year’s winter Olympics in South Korea with some Russian athletes permitted to compete under the Olympic flag.FIERCE OPPOSITIONWADA’s decision came despite fierce opposition from athletes and other anti-doping bodies after WADA’s review committee last week recommended that the Russian agency be reinstated.”The process stinks and it’s been extremely shady how it’s gone about,” Travis Tygart, head of the U.S. Anti-Doping agency (USADA), told Reuters Television this week. WADA Vice-President Linda Helleland had said she would oppose the proposal.National anti-doping bodies from around the world, including the United States, Britain, Canada and Australia, on Tuesday issued a joint statement urging WADA not reinstate RUSADA.Grigory Rodchenkov, the former RUSADA official whose evidence did much to expose the extent of the problem, said reinstatement under the current conditions would be “a catastrophe for Olympic sport ideals, the fight against doping and the protection of clean athletes.”His lawyer Jim Walden described Thursday’s decision as “the greatest treachery against clean athletes in Olympic history.”The United States is wasting its money by continuing to fund WADA, which is obviously impotent to address Russia’s state-sponsored doping” he said in a statement. Former Canadian race-walker Inaki Gomez tweeted that the decision “will tarnish WADA’s reputation and bring sport into disrepute.”(With inputs from AP and Reuters)last_img

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