Rus­sia, dop­ing agency still at log­ger­heads

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - JAMES ELLINGWORTH MOSCOW —

Rus­sia and the World Anti-Dop­ing Agency were once again at log­ger­heads Thurs­day fol­low­ing WADA’s de­mand that the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment must ac­cept the find­ings of a re­port which ac­cused its of­fi­cials of overseeing a mass dop­ing coverup.

The dis­pute comes a day be­fore the start of the track and field world cham­pi­onships in Lon­don, which will fea­ture 19 Rus­sians of­fi­cially com­pet­ing as “neu­tral ath­letes,” with many others pre­vented from tak­ing part. Ar­gu­ments over past dop­ing of­fences could de­lay Rus­sia’s full re­turn to in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tion.

Last year’s re­port by WADA in­ves­ti­ga­tor Richard McLaren said Rus­sian Sports Min­istry of­fi­cials de­cided which ath­letes to “save” by cov­er­ing up failed drug tests, and over­saw a plan to swap sam­ples con­tain­ing banned sub­stances at the 2014 Win­ter Olympics.

In a new road map, WADA has made ac­cep­tance of the re­port by the min­istry and Rus­sian Olympic Com­mit­tee a key point as Rus­sia tries to have its na­tional drug-test­ing agency, known as RUSADA, re­in­stated.

“There was no state pro­gram and there can­not be one, this didn’t hap­pen in Rus­sia,” Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Vi­taly Mutko told Rus­sian news agency Tass on Thurs­day. “We will not ad­mit some­thing that did not hap­pen.”

Some min­istry of­fi­cials re­signed last year fol­low­ing McLaren’s al­le­ga­tions, but the gov­ern­ment has never said they were re­spon­si­ble for any of the abuses al­leged in the re­port, which con­cerned dozens of sports and hun­dreds of ath­letes over sev­eral years.

Vi­taly Smirnov, the head of an an­tidop­ing com­mis­sion set up by Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin, dis­puted an­other of WADA’s stip­u­la­tions — that Rus­sian law en­force­ment stop seal­ing off a store of urine sam­ples in Moscow’s for­mer drugtest­ing lab­o­ra­tory. “There’s no way we can speed up this process,” he told Rus­sian agency R-Sport.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the Rus­sian In­ves­tiga­tive Com­mit­tee has so far con­cen­trated on for­mer lab di­rec­tor Grig­ory Rod­chenkov — the McLaren re­port’s star wit­ness — paint­ing him as an im­moral and un­re­li­able fig­ure who co­erced oth­er­wise clean ath­letes into tak­ing drugs.

The road map ac­knowl­edges progress on RUSADA’s ad­min­is­tra­tion and anti-drug ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams, but says it must still hire more staff and pass an au­dit.

WADA’s de­mands will likely have lit­tle im­me­di­ate ef­fect be­cause WADA has al­ready par­tially re­stored some au­thor­ity to RUSADA. That al­lowed it sig­nif­i­cant in­de­pen­dence, in­clud­ing the au­thor­ity to co-or­di­nate drug test­ing.

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