WADA says Rus­sia crit­ics harm­ing doping fight

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - Sport -

UN­NERVED by pub­lic dis­putes and bul­ly­ing claims, the World Anti-doping Agency is urg­ing crit­ics of the de­ci­sion to re­in­state Rus­sia to cease their dis­tract­ing at­tacks.

WADA direc­tor gen­eral Olivier Nig­gli told The As­so­ci­ated Press it’s more ben­e­fi­cial to work with the coun­try, as the three-year sus­pen­sion of its an­ti­dop­ing agency comes to an end, rather than forc­ing the gov­ern­ment to con­fess to or­ches­trat­ing the abuse of drugs and cover-ups.

The move proved so con­tentious that Olympic cham­pion Beckie Scott quit her role on a panel re­view­ing Rus­sia’s con­di­tions of re­in­state­ment. She later ac­cused WADA of­fi­cials of bul­ly­ing her over her op­po­si­tion at an ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee meet­ing.

“There was a heated dis­cus­sion,” Nig­gli con­firmed to the AP. “Board meet­ings are there for ar­gu­ments to be made and dis­cus­sions to take place. It’s not ab­nor­mal.”

Scott, a Cana­dian for­mer cross­coun­try skier, felt be­lit­tled and tar­geted with in­ap­pro­pri­ate com­ments at the Sey­chelles ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee meet­ing which she at­tended as head of WADA’S ath­lete com­mit­tee — a po­si­tion she still holds.

“I hope go­ing for­ward... ev­ery­one un­der­stands it is not a per­sonal at­tack,” Nig­gli said. “There are dis­agree­ments on some points but be­tween that and bul­ly­ing there is a gap that I would not want to cross.”

WADA has asked for what it de­scribed as an in­de­pen­dent ex­pert to re­view record­ings and tran­scripts of the de­bate ahead of the next meet­ing in Baku, Azer­bai­jan, on Novem­ber 14.

“We have ac­knowl­edged Beckie’s con­cerns,” Nig­gli said. “We have agreed to talk to her be­fore our next meet­ing. I think that is what needs to be done among re­spon­si­ble per­sons who all want the same thing, which is to move the fight against doping for­ward. The irony of this whole dis­cus­sion is, I am con­vinced, that all of us want to move things for­ward and I think it is ac­tu­ally rather sad that we can­not con­cen­trate our ef­forts on that be­cause of this kind of is­sue be­ing raised.”

Through­out the tele­phone in­ter­view with the AP, Nig­gli ref­er­enced “po­lit­i­cal” at­tacks on WADA with­out spec­i­fy­ing who was co­or­di­nat­ing them. “I am not sure what is the agenda, what is the endgame ... be­cause I only see it as weak­en­ing the sys­tem glob­ally, not just WADA, which is to­tally coun­ter­pro­duc­tive,” Nig­gli said. “Now is the time to con­cen­trate on the real work, stop the po­lit­i­cal ar­gu­ments and move for­ward.”

Justifying the watch­dog’s on­go­ing value, Nig­gli said those claim­ing “WADA is be­com­ing ir­rel­e­vant are sim­ply part of po­lit­i­cal rhetoric with absolutely no sub­stance.”

Ath­letes and na­tional anti-doping agen­cies de­cried WADA for cav­ing in even as Rus­sia re­peat­edly de­clined to ac­cept full cul­pa­bil­ity at the state level for a doping scheme that in­ves­ti­ga­tors said in­cluded dirty sam­ples be­ing switched for clean ones at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

“I wouldn’t say WADA was bul­lied by Rus­sia,” Nig­gli said. “But there was dis­cus­sion led and pro­posed by our com­pli­ance com­mit­tee which was try­ing to find the best way for­ward in a to­tally in­de­pen­dent fash­ion, not con­trolled by any of our stake­hold­ers.”

Rus­sia’s anti-doping agency (RUSADA) was sus­pended in 2015 af­ter the first in a series of WADA re­ports that found top ath­letes could take banned drugs with near-im­punity since RUSADA and the na­tional lab­o­ra­tory would cover for them. Un­der the new ar­range­ment, Rus­sia has a deadline of Dec. 31 to pro­vide ac­cess to data and sam­ples from the for­mer Moscow lab­o­ra­tory that was at the cen­ter of the plot. With­out the data, doping cases that came out of the Rus­sian scheme could not be com­pleted.

“I think rather than weak­en­ing the process, ev­ery­body should try to re­in­force it so that we get the data and we can move for­ward with that which is only in the in­ter­ests of clean ath­letes,” Nig­gli said.

“If you look at this bluntly, it’s ac­tu­ally a win-win sit­u­a­tion. Don’t for­get Rus­sian ath­letes are com­pet­ing at the mo­ment and ob­tain­ing this data will al­low us to re­ally clar­ify a num­ber of cases with the miss­ing pieces of a lot of the in­for­ma­tion.

“If it doesn’t work, if we don’t get the data, we are in a po­si­tion to go for­ward and take new de­ci­sions on a dif­fer­ent le­gal ba­sis on Rus­sia. Both camps are ac­tu­ally bet­ter than the sta­tus quo.”

Track and field was one of the few sports to im­pose a ban on Rus­sians com­pet­ing. Even though the IOC pre­vented Rus­sia from en­ter­ing a team at the Pyeongchang Win­ter Olympics in Fe­bru­ary, more than 160 ath­letes were still cleared to com­pete as “Olympic Ath­letes from Rus­sia.”

WADA is will­ing to let Rus­sia op­er­ate its own anti-doping pro­gram again de­spite mount­ing ev­i­dence about how Moscow re­tal­i­ated against the ini­tial pun­ish­ment.

The US Depart­ment of Jus­tice out­lined last month how serv­ing of­fi­cers of the GRU mil­i­tary in­tel­li­gence body hit the sports world with a wave of cy­ber­crimes to ac­cess ath­lete data at an­ti­dop­ing agen­cies that was pub­lished on­line by the “Fancy Bear” group.

“I would hope Rus­sia would stop cy­ber­crimes and other coun­tries in ev­ery field of so­ci­ety and life,” Nig­gli said. “There is a huge po­lit­i­cal con­text which goes way be­yond our man­date. I hope Rus­sia will be a very good, re­spon­si­ble part­ner.” – AP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Myanmar

© PressReader. All rights reserved.