WADA, Reedie under attack again over Russian doping scandal
Tensions over the Russian doping scandal broke out into the open again on Wednesday as Olympic officials blasted the World AntiDoping Agency and an influential powerbroker called for a "neutral" leader to take over the body from Craig Reedie.
WADA came under sharp attack from delegates at the general assembly of the Association of National Olympic Committees, particularly over the agency's handling of the allegations of statesponsored Russian doping that overshadowed the buildup to the Rio de Janeiro Games.
In an unexpected development, ANOC President Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah said reforms of the anti-doping agency will be difficult "unless we will have a neutral chair for the next three years."
The sheikh proposed a resolution seeking a "neutral leadership of the reform of the organization."
The move came just four days before Reedie, an IOC member from Britain, is scheduled to be renewed as WADA president for a second three-year term at agency meetings in Glasgow, Scotland. It also came less than a week after the IOC executive board said it would support Reedie's re-election.
Reedie and conference delegates seemed caught off guard by Sheikh Ahmad's comments.
"I found the sheikh quite difficult to understand," Reedie told The Associated Press. "I wasn't sure exactly what he said."
Sheikh Ahmad also suggested the Montreal-based WADA could move to Geneva, Switzerland.
Reedie, who met privately with IOC President Thomas Bach after the conference debate, said he envisions no immediate change to an independent president of WADA.
"I think that would be difficult to happen between now and Sunday," he said, adding there was "no doubt in my mind" that his reelection will go forward this weekend.
Reedie said proposals for an independent WADA president had been previously put forward, but with the goal of implementation in the future.
"That is clearly part of the governance debate," he said. "If they want that to happen I will make sure that it does happen."
Reedie has been WADA president since 2013. Under current rules, a WADA president is elected for three years, with the option of a second three-year term. The presidency rotates between representatives of governments and sporting bodies.
The IOC told the AP on Wednesday that the executive board notified Reedie last week that it intends in the "future" to have a neutral WADA president "for the sake of the credibility and good governance."
The board proposed to work with governments to change the current rotation system to clear the way for the new leadership.
"At the meeting, Sir Craig accepted this approach and said he would not stand in the way of such a solution," the IOC said. "Following this, he received the support of the IOC executive board for his reappointment as WADA President."
ANOC adopted a resolution at the close of the assembly Wednesday that called for the removal of sanctioning powers from WADA and discussions between the Olympic movement and governments for "the joint appointment of a neutral WADA president." No timetable was specified.