Cannabis will remain a banned substance in sport after a review by the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada).
American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson was ruled out of the Tokyo Olympics after receiving a one-month ban for using the drug last year.
Wada agreed to review the cannabis ban after requests from “stakeholders”.
But it decided on Friday at a meeting of its executive committee to maintain the ban because the use of the drug “violated the spirit of sport”.
The ban for recreational drug use by athletes who test positive out of competition was reduced from two years to one to three months last year.
“Wada is aware of the diversity of opinions and perceptions related to this substance around the world, and even within certain countries,” director general Olivier Niggli said.
“Wada plans to continue research in this area in relation with [its] potential performance enhancing effects, its impact on the health of athletes and also in relation to perceptions of cannabis from athletes, experts and others around the world.”
In the UK cannabis is a class B drug and possession carries a penalty of up to five years in prison and an unlimited fine.
The organisation also announced that the painkiller tramadol is to be added to the list of banned substances for athletes in competition from 2024. ”
Tramadol abuse, with its dose-dependent risks of physical dependence, opiate addiction and overdoses in the general population, is of concern and has led to it being a controlled drug in many countries,” Wada said in a news release.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has announced that their Chief Operating Officer Frédéric Donzé, has passed on.
The 50 year-old who joined Wada in 2002 as its media relations and communications manager passed on after a short a short illness.
In 2011, he became director of WADA’s European regional office and relations with international federations in Lausanne, a position currently held by Frenchman Sébastien Gillot, before being appointed director of operations in 2016.
“For 20 years, Fred has been a cornerstone of the life and soul of WADA,” said WADA Director General Olivier Niggli. His extraordinary work ethic, intelligence and authenticity made him an inspiration to his colleagues and a confidant to athletes and all those involved in the fight against doping around the world. His passing is devastating for all of us who had the great fortune to know him, to work alongside him and to call him our friend. ”
Donzé was one of the longest-serving members of the WADA executive, joining the agency in 2002 as its first media director. He served as director of the European office before returning to headquarters in 2016 as COO.
The reinstatement of Russia’s anti-doping agency undermines the faith clean athletes have in the World Anti-Doping Agency, says marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe.
Wada has ended a three-year suspension which followed a major scandal over alleged state-sponsored doping.
Briton Radcliffe is one of several leading current and former athletes to criticize Thursday’s decision.
“This goes against everything Wada is supposed to stand for,” she said.
“It undermines their credibility and the faith clean athletes have in them.”
‘To bank on the Russians is naive’
The Russian anti-doping agency (Rusada) had been suspended since 2015 over alleged state-backed doping after it was accused of covering up drug abuse – including while the country hosted the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics – in a Wada-commissioned report.
Russia was ordered to meet set criteria before Rusada could be readmitted, which included accepting the findings of the McLaren report into state-sponsored doping and granting access to Moscow’s anti-doping laboratory.
Last week, Wada’s compliance review committee recommended reinstatement after it received assurances from the Russian sports ministry that the country had “sufficiently acknowledged” failures.
Wada president Sir Craig Reedie said the reinstatement, agreed by its executive committee at a meeting in the Seychelles, was “subject to strict conditions”.
However, Radcliffe said she felt Russia has “never accepted the harm they did to clean sport globally” and that the initial criteria set out by Wada “shouldn’t have been up for negotiation”.
Speaking to BBC Radio 5 live, she added: “You can’t move the goalposts now without destroying the credibility of Wada.”
On Wednesday, the BBC revealed details of a compromise proposed by Wada director general Olivier Niggli to Russia’s Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov on how to improve the country’s chances of readmission to international sport.
British Olympic track cycling champion Callum Skinner said lifting the ban was “incredibly disappointing” because Wada should be “there to protect clean sport, not there to protect the people they have sanctioned”.
“This is a step backwards in the fight towards making sport cleaner,” he said.
As part of the post-reinstatement conditions, Wada has demanded access to the former Moscow laboratory data and samples by the end of 2018.
Skinner said it was “quite troubling” for Wada to rely on Rusada providing this access when it had not previously under the original conditions of reinstatement.
“To now bank on the Russians to hold up their end of the deal is naive,” he said.
What have other British athletes said?
Goldie Sayers is finally set to receive 2008 Olympic javelin bronze after Russia’s Mariya Abakumova, who initially won silver, was stripped of her medal and failed in her appeal against a doping ban.
Sayers, who retired last year, told BBC Radio 4 Rusada’s reinstatement was a “devastating blow for clean athletes” and that Wada had rushed into the decision.
“Leaders in sports governance forget who they are there to serve. We need governance that is there for the athletes because you do feel very powerless at times,” she said.
“There is a credibility issue in sport and Wada have not helped themselves in that at all. You have to accept that you have a problem before you can change and changing a culture takes years and years, not three years.”
Race walker Tom Bosworth called on Reedie to resign and accused the Wada president of having “let all clean, hard-working athletes down”.
Olympic breaststroke gold medallist Adam Peaty said Wada’s decision was an example of “how to lose the respect of all clean athletes real quick”.
Paralympic powerlifting silver medallist Ali Jawad said: “I’m sorry for every clean athlete around the world let down by Wada. We will keep fighting for our rights to compete clean. I promise we will win the fight one day. We may have lost the battle today but we will win the war.”
Commonwealth 5,000m bronze medallist Laura Weightman said: “Wada should be protecting all the hard-working, clean athletes out there, but they have let us all down.”
‘A slap in the face’ – reaction from anti-doping heads
US Anti-Doping Agency (Usada) head Travis Tygart said the decision was a “catastrophic outcome” for clean athletes and sports fans.
“We all want every nation in the Olympics, particularly those that are competitive and powerful and influential like Russia – but not at the expense of the Olympic values,” he told BBC Sport.
“We trusted them, they cheated like never before.
“This is a slap in the face for those who put clean sport and fair play above sport politics and the influence that money and large countries have within the sport promotion arena.”
UK Anti-Doping (Ukad) chief executive Nicole Sapstead said she was “incredibly saddened” by Wada’s move.
“Ukad had hoped the decision to reinstate Russia would be postponed, at least for a few months so that some due consideration could be given to the compromise that seems to have been put on the table,” she told the BBC.
“It’s important an entity like Wada exists – it is there to uphold a set of rules that apply to every country and every athlete. But that sort of organisation has to be beyond reproach, it has to uphold the stands and it has to be held to account when it hasn’t.
“Wada needs to move forward in a constructive way, it needs to repair the damage it has done to the athlete community and to the wider anti-doping community, and it needs to restore the trust we have in it.”
There was also objection within Wada, with two of the 12-strong executive committee voting against Rusada’s reinstatement – New Zealand’s Clayton Cosgrove and Wada vice-president Linda Helleland.
Norwegian politician Helleland, who hopes to replace Briton Reedie as Wada president next year, said the organisation had “failed the clean athletes of the world”.
“This casts a dark shadow over the credibility of the anti-doping movement – it was wrong to welcome Rusada back until they had fully and transparently met the roadmap.”
The reaction from Russia
Russia has repeatedly denied running a state-sponsored doping programme and continued to deny full access to and retained control of its Moscow laboratory.
In a letter to Wada president Reedie last week, Russian sports minister Pavel Kolobkov said: “I am grateful for your acknowledgement of the significant achievements in rebuilding Rusada.”
Russian MP and 2006 Olympic speed skating champion Svetlana Zhurova echoed Kolobkov’s comments, saying “much has been done” to reform Rusada to “get to this stage”.
“We changed our legislation, we’ve travelled a long journey to correct mistakes and act on Wada’s comments,” she told the BBC.
“Russia has recognised and corrected nearly all the points in the McLaren report. Some of the points in that report even the Court of Arbitration of Sport didn’t recognise and some Russian sportsmen had their medals returned.”
She added that “Russia has been punished enough” and the “complaints don’t exist today”.
“If we keep looking back, at when Russia didn’t do this, we won’t make any progress,” she said.
“Of course, if someone in the West doesn’t want our athletes and Paralympians to compete, you will still hear voices saying: ‘Do not reinstate Rusada.’
“If you don’t want to see Russia as a rival in track and field and Paralympics, then I understand this – but this is more politics than common sense.”
World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) vice-president Linda Helleland says she will vote against lifting the suspension of Russia’s anti-doping agency (Rusada) this week.
Wada’s executive committee meets in the Seychelles on Thursday where they are expected to pave the way for Russia’s readmission into international sport after a major doping scandal.
But Helleland has become the first member of Wada’s senior leadership to oppose the move, insisting the country has not yet met key demands.
“I will vote against the reinstatement of Russia,” she said as the issue continued to cause unprecedented division within the organisation.
Last week, Wada’s compliance review committee (CRC) recommended that its executive committee end a three-year suspension of Rusada, saying the country had “sufficiently acknowledged” failures.
Wada had previously insisted Russia meet two criteria as part of a ‘roadmap’ for its return to compliance: accept the findings of the 2015 McLaren report after an investigation revealed an extensive, government-backed cheating conspiracy, and grant access to its drug-tainted Moscow laboratory.
However BBC Sport then revealed details of a compromise suggested by Wada’s president Sir Craig Reedie and director-general Olivier Niggli to Russia’s Sports Minister in June that was eventually accepted.
Wada defended the apparent softening of its position, but the revelation has sparked an outcry from various athletes and national anti-doping agencies.
Now Helleland – who hopes to replace Reedie as Wada president next year – has also broken ranks.
In a statement the Norwegian politician said: “I can see that progress is being made and I acknowledge the efforts done by Rusada, but as long as the McLaren report is not acknowledged and Wada still has no access to the laboratories, I will vote against the reinstatement of Russia.
“I am in no doubt that the tabled proposal is deviating considerably from the original roadmap and hence I feel I am obliged to defend previous decisions at the Wada ExCo (executive committee). This is one of the most critical decisions the anti-doping community has ever faced.
“I will vote for, and support the original roadmap. This is because I believe you should never make any compromises that undermine your credibility.
“If you choose to reinstate Russia, you defy the very wish of the athletes’ committees around the world, who have very clearly stated that they will not accept a reinstatement now.
“This moment will forever define the credibility of Wada as the independent and strong front runner for clean sport.”
Russia has repeatedly denied running a state-sponsored doping programme, and have been approached for comment.
In a letter to Reedie last week, Russian sports minister Pavel Kolobkov said: “I am grateful for your acknowledgement of the significant achievements in rebuilding Rusada.”
Calls for decision to be postponed
Meanwhile, seven members of Wada’s athlete committee – from seven countries – have signed a statement in which they say “any compromise… will be a devastating blow to clean athletes and clean sport”.
Ten members of the Wada athlete committee have not added their names to the statement, although its chair – Canadian Olympian Beckie Scott, who resigned from the CRC in protest – is also understood to be in support.
“It is for Rusada to be compliant, not for Wada to change its conditions to make Rusada compliant,” they say.
“It should not be possible to commit the biggest doping scandal of the 21st Century and then be reinstated without completing the conditions that have been set.
“Any compromise on the road map will be a devastating blow to clean athletes and clean sport.”
As the civil war in global anti-doping has intensified, the UK Anti-Doping Agency has joined with other leading national anti-doping organisations around the world to call for a postponement of any decision by Wada.
In a remarkable joint statement, the bodies said they were “dismayed” at what they called “a shifting of the goalposts” by Wada and accused it of “sending a message to the world that doping is tolerated” over its deal with Russia.
“In the interests of athletes we urge Wada to postpone the decision of its executive committee on Thursday until such time as Russia has clearly and publicly met the outstanding conditions of Wada’s roadmap,” they said.
The US Olympic Committee Athletes’ Advisory Council has offered its “full and unwavering support” to the stance.
“By acting on promises, and not proven compliance, Wada’s decision on reinstating Rusada would weaken the increasingly delicate integrity of international sport. Ignoring the established conditions also ignores the athletes’ voice that has been begging for a fair and even playing field,” it said.
The civil war in global anti-doping has intensified further after the World Anti-Doping Agency was accused by 13 major anti-doping agencies – including the UK and US – of “moving the goalposts” and “sending a message to the world that doping is tolerated” over its willingness to strike a deal with Russia.
In an extraordinary attack the 13 agencies also said they were “dismayed” by Wada’s behaviour. They further insisted that Wada must postpone Thursday’s decision to reinstate the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (Rusada) because the Russians had not met Wada’s open roadmap to return.
Nicole Sapstead, the chief executive of UK Anti-Doping, said the response highlighted the gravity of the situation. “This is a defining moment,” she told the Guardian. “The roadmap for Rusada’s return was agreed through a proper process by Wada, yet at zero hour they have changed it. It is pretty much sticking two fingers up at the athletes and the organisations that work tirelessly on their behalf. I am deeply troubled by the way it has been handled. To me it looks dodgy.”
In a growing sign of the disillusionment with Wada’s president, Craig Reedie, and its director general, Olivier Niggli, seven of Wada’s 17-strong athletes’ commission separately said on Tuesday that Russia should not be allowed to return.
In an open letter the athletes, who included the former GB Paralympian Vicki Aggar, pointed out that Russia had not yet accepted the McLaren report– which confirmed that more than 1,000 Russian athletes had been helped by a massive state-sponsored doping programme – or allowed independent experts to access the Moscow lab.
“It should not be possible to commit the biggest doping scandal of the 21st century and then be reinstated without completing the conditions that have been set,” the letter added.
Rusada was declared non-compliant in November 2015 after allegations of massive state sponsored doping. But last week Wada’s independent compliance review committee recommended to Wada’s executive committee that Rusada should be allowed to operate again when it meets on 20 September.
Afterwards it transpired that Reedie and Niggli had written to Russia’s sports minister, Pavel Kolobkov, in June to suggest a “compromise” to allow Rusada to return.
However 13 anti-doping agencies – from Australia, Austria, Canada, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, UK and USA – say that Wada wrongly “shifted the goalposts”.
“We cannot understand or accept that the simple fact that the two remaining conditions – regarding Russian acceptance of the McLaren Report and access for Wada to the Moscow laboratory – remain unfulfilled, and yet Wada’s leading compliance body is recommending the reinstatement of a country that perpetrated the worst doping system ever seen in international sport,” they added.
The World Anti-Doping Agency president Craig Reedie has warned Russia that it won’t be allowed back in “from the cold” until it acknowledges its massive state-sponsored doping programme and allows its Moscow anti-doping laboratory to be inspected.
Reedie, speaking at the Wada Symposium in Lausanne, revealed Russia had ignored four letters proposing a joint inspection of the Moscow laboratory – where hundreds of athletes’ samples are still stored – alongside the Russian Sports Investigatory Committee. Reedie told the 900 delegates that without genuine reform, every Russian victory would be doubted.
“We made an offer to senior Russian officials in Pyeongchang to visit the Moscow laboratory together but it seems our offer has fallen on deaf ears,” said Reedie. “We have also written to the Russian Investigatory Committee four times to offer our help and we have not had a single response.
“The big losers here are Russian athletes. Their participation in future events will continue to be put in doubt and the rest of the world will not be convinced any meaningful change has taken place.
“Real action is needed. It’s time for this situation to change. If not, it will damage sport – every Russian victory will be doubted.”
The Russian Anti-Doping Agency, which was suspended in November 2015, has now met most of the requirements on Wada’s road map for reinstatement but Reedie said there has been no progress on the final two stumbling blocks despite 15 months of talks.
Along with access to the Moscow laboratory, Russia is required to accept the findings of the McLaren report, which revealed over 1,000 Russian athletes across 30 sports were involved in an institutional doping programme, including at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.
“We want to welcome an independent and efficient Rusada back in from the cold – it’s just a pity that progress is so slow from the Russian authorities,” Reedie said. “We have been trying to persuade them to recognise and accept as true the systemic doping as revealed by the investigations led by Professor Richard McLaren and Samuel Schmid, which was the basis of the recent International Olympic Committee decision on Russia’s neutral status at the Winter Olympics.”
Rusada’s new head Yuri Ganus insisted his organisation had made changes. But when asked why it was not acknowledging the McLaren report, he replied. “It’s not a question that depends on us … it’s about negotiation.”
Earlier Reedie denied that the global anti-doping system was “broken” but admitted more work was required to ensure Wada’s rules were being followed in every nation, not just Russia.
One of its key issues remains funding and Reedie welcomed the recent announcement that its £20m annual budget, which comes on a 50/50 basis from the International Olympic Committee and national governments, will be increased by 8% this year.
However, the need for more money was spelled out by Wada’s director general Olivier Niggli. He said Wada had doubled its investigations and intelligence team from three to six people, with a seventh joining soon. But the team is currently only able to deal with 12% of the information it receives from whistleblowers.