Athletes rep­re­sen­ta­tive says anti-dop­ing sys­tem ‘not bro­ken’

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

The head of WADA’s ath­lete com­mis­sion con­tends the global anti-dop­ing sys­tem is not “bro­ken” and laments that pol­i­tics sur­round­ing the Rus­sian dop­ing scan­dal has sown “dis­cord” in the fight against per­for­mance-en­hanc­ing drugs.

Beckie Scott, who chairs the World Anti-Dop­ing Agency ath­lete com­mit­tee, urged all sides on Wed­nes­day to put aside their dif­fer­ences and work to­gether to com­bat “an un­de­ni­able threat to the in­tegrity of sport to­day.”

In an op-ed re­leased by the Mon­treal-based agency, the for­mer Olympic cross-coun­try skier from Canada noted that WADA “has come un­der in­tense crit­i­cism and scru­tiny” in the wake of the al­le­ga­tions of state-backed dop­ing in Rus­sia.

“’Why?” Scott said. “For suc­cess­fully ful­fill­ing their man­date and tak­ing the nec­es­sary de­ci­sions.”

“To be clear, ‘the sys­tem’ is not bro­ken,” she added. “If it were, the ex­po­sure of sys­tem­atic and state-con­trolled dop­ing in Rus­sia by WADA would never have hap­pened.”

Sev­eral IOC mem­bers have blasted WADA, ac­cus­ing the agency of fail­ing to act sooner on the Rus­sian dop­ing prob­lems. They also crit­i­cized WADA for re­leas­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tor Richard McLaren’s re­port on sys­tem­atic Rus­sian dop­ing just weeks be­fore the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

McLaren’s re­port led WADA to call for the ex­clu­sion of the en­tire Rus­sian team from the Rio Games. The IOC re­jected the rec­om­men­da­tion, in­stead ask­ing in­di­vid­ual sports fed­er­a­tions to de­ter­mine which Rus­sian athletes could com­pete.

“It is un­ac­cept­able that when it comes to clean, fair sport, there is a sense of dis­cord when there should be har­mony,” Scott said. “Al­most ev­ery day some­one new from the Olympic fam­ily takes to the me­dia with the crit­i­cal claim that the global anti-dop­ing ‘sys­tem is bro­ken.’”

In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee mem­bers Juan An­to­nio Sa­ma­ranch Jr., Sergei Bubka and Ger­ardo Werthein have all is­sued highly crit­i­cal as­sess­ments of WADA in re­cent weeks.

“The is­sue has be­come so deeply di­vi­sive and con­flicted among stake­hold­ers that it seems athletes have an­other com­peti­tor in the ring — pol­i­tics,” Scott said. “Cyn­i­cism alone will not win the fight.”

Scott’s com­ments were re­leased three days be­fore an Olympic sum­mit in Lau­sanne, Switzer­land, that the IOC says will fo­cus on de­vel­op­ing “a more ro­bust, more ef­fi­cient and more independent” world­wide anti-dop­ing sys­tem. IOC Pres­i­dent Thomas Bach has called for the en­tire test­ing sys­tem to be independent from sports or­gan­i­sa­tions.

“We have to be so­lu­tion fo­cused and can no longer af­ford to be­come sub­ject to the pol­i­tics, con­flicted in­ter­ests and game-play­ing that has held us back for so long,” Scott said.

With WADA’s fu­ture role and sta­tus un­der scru­tiny, Scott said the agency should be given the au­ton­omy to ef­fec­tively mon­i­tor com­pli­ance with global anti-dop­ing rules, ap­ply sanc­tions and serve as the “reg­u­la­tory body” for anti-dop­ing ef­forts around the world.

Scott also said WADA needs bet­ter fund­ing. The agency’s an­nual bud­get, cov­ered 50-50 by the Olympic move­ment and na­tional gov­ern­ments, is about $27 mil­lion.

“We need to ask our­selves, what is the cost?” she wrote. “What price are we will­ing to pay for clean, le­git­i­mate sport? We must find new ways of fund­ing the quest for a level play­ing field.”

Scott orig­i­nally fin­ished third in the 5-kilo­me­ter pur­suit at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, but was even­tu­ally bumped up to the gold medal af­ter the two other medal­ists were caught for dop­ing.

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