Tag Archives: Pavel Kolobkov

Paula Radcliffe : Faith in Wada undermined

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.”

Grigory Rodchenkov speaks to BBC sports editor Dan Roan in February 2018

‘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.”

Rusada’s suspension was imposed in November 2015

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.”

Russia’s reinstatement after doping scandal goes to a vote

Should Russia be reinstated without publicly admitting wrongdoing for its state-sponsored doping scheme?

That question has caused ferocious infighting at the World Anti-Doping Agency, the watchdog body tasked with stopping any repeat of the widespread drug use and cover-ups that tarnished a sporting superpower.

WADA’s board is due to vote on the issue on Thursday in the Seychelles. If it votes yes, it might push the International Association of Athletics Federations, which is the world track-and-field body, to welcome back Russia, too.

Russia’s anti-doping agency, RUSADA, was suspended in November, 2015, when a WADA report found top athletes could take banned drugs with near-impunity since RUSADA and the national laboratory would cover for them. Later investigations found evidence that dirty samples were switched for clean ones when Russia hosted the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

The reinstatement of RUSADA is championed by WADA’s president, Craig Reedie, who has softened two key conditions for Russia, and the move has the tacit backing of the International Olympic Committee.

But despite a recommendation for reinstatement from a key WADA committee, it has provoked anger from other anti-doping figures who feel Russia can’t be trusted to reform without accepting more of the blame.

Athletes on one of WADA’s own commissions, Russian doping whistle-blower Grigory Rodchenkov and WADA vice-president Linda Helleland lead the opposition.

“I am afraid that by opting for the easiest way out, it will ultimately hurt WADA in the future,” said Helleland, a Norwegian politician who is eyeing a bid to replace Reedie as the organization’s president.

On Wednesday, the International Olympic Committee athletes’ commission came out in favour of reinstatement, but that of the IAAF track federation came out against, along with athletes from USA Swimming.

Reedie softened his position on Russia “in the spirit of compromise,” as he wrote to Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov in June.

That means dropping a demand for Russia to accept a report that accused the state of directing doping, and instead allowing it to accept an IOC document with milder conclusions. Reedie deemed it satisfactory after Kolobkov wrote that he “fully accepted” the IOC report, and Russia won’t be expected to make any public statement or address exactly who in the vast state sports structure was to blame.

Critical of the move toward reinstating RUSADA, whistle-blower Rodchenkov said Russia’s priority is “protecting their top-level apparatchiks who destroyed the Olympic Games in Sochi.”

WADA’s Reedie also accepted Russia can be reinstated without providing some key evidence from the Moscow laboratory at the centre of the allegations. Instead, Russia promises to deliver it only after it’s reinstated.

Russian law enforcement – and President Vladimir Putin – haven’t changed their argument that the main guilty party was WADA’s star whistle-blower Rodchenkov. Russian law enforcement alleges that he tricked clean Russian athletes into taking drugs for unclear reasons, then faked evidence of abuses at the Sochi Olympics.

Rodchenkov is in hiding in the United States, while other whistle-blowers such as runners Yulia Stepanova and Andrei Dmitriev, have been vilified at home after reporting abuses by teammates. They say they have been forced to leave Russia for their own safety.

Putin ordered his own investigation in 2016 and some Sports Ministry officials, including then-deputy sports minister Yuri Nagornykh, were suspended. However, that investigation never reported any public conclusions and the officials quietly resigned later that year. Vitaly Mutko, who was sports minister during the Sochi Olympics, was swiftly promoted to deputy prime minister.

It’s largely a symbolic battle for RUSADA but could set a precedent in track and field, where Russia has been suspended since 2015. RUSADA’s reinstatement is one of the conditions the IAAF set before it will allow Russia’s team back to full strength, rather than its current neutral status.

That status means Russian track-and-field athletes cannot compete in international competitions under the Russian flag and have to be cleared as independent athletes.

If Russia is listed as compliant, WADA is also likely to drop its recommendation that the country shouldn’t be awarded hosting rights for new competitions. Some major sports have already flouted that measure without any apparent consequences.

The small world of anti-doping officials may be in uproar, but at RUSADA itself all is calm.

A WADA decision last year quietly restored almost all of the agency’s powers without a formal reinstatement since the number of test samples taken in Russia had plummeted. Speaking earlier this month, RUSADA CEO Yuri Ganus said just about the only effects of Russia’s “non-compliant” status were extra monitoring of the agency’s work and problems asking for assistance from foreign agencies.

RUSADA is on track to be among the most active agencies in the world this year after collecting 7,013 in the first eight months of 2018. That’s almost as many as RUSADA did in the run-up to the Sochi Olympics, when it’s accused of routinely “saving” dopers.

WADA says this time the Russian doping test results can be trusted.

Source: ASSOCIATED PRESS

Anti-doping rift deepens as agencies turn on Wada over Russia

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.

Russia needs to admit cheating- WADA chief

Russian athletes’ involvement at major events is in doubt until authorities admit cheating, says the president of the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada).

The Russian Anti-Doping Agency (Rusada), currently suspended by Wada, is yet to accept proof of state-sponsored doping.

Wada is also unable to access hundreds of athletes’ samples stored in a Moscow laboratory central to the scandal.

“The big losers here are Russian athletes,” said Sir Craig Reedie.

“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.”

The McLaren report concluded 1,000 athletes across 30 sports benefitted from the doping programme between 2012 and 2015.

Athletes who could prove they were clean were allowed to compete in Pyeongchang under a neutral flag.

While Rusada – suspended in November 2015 – has now met all the other requirements on Wada’s road map for reinstatement, Reedie said there has been no progress on the final two points.

“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,” he said.

“We have also written to the Russian Investigatory Committee four times to offer our help and we have not had a single response.

“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.”

But RUSADA’s new director general Yury Ganus said acknowledgement of state-sponsored doping “doesn’t depend on us”.

“It’s a difficult question and we’re not responsible for this question,” he added.

“We’re doing our best, but it’s a question for state officials and it’s a question of negotiation.”

Speaking at Wada’s 14th annual conference in Lausanne, Reedie’s address followed comments from the Russian sports minister Pavel Kolobkov to the TASS news agency, suggesting that the country’s “sports remains hostage” to McLaren’s findings.

Kolobkov cited the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) overturning the Olympic life bans of 28 Russian athletes which had been based on McLaren’s conclusion that 1,000 athletes across 30 sports benefitted from the doping programme between 2012 and 2015.

Cas said that in 28 cases evidence was “insufficient” to prove doping – a decision IOC chief Thomas Bach called “extremely disappointing and surprising”.

“When 28 of our athletes were cleared, the decision was made by an independent court, it was a meaningful judicial process involving witnesses, our athletes, experts and testimonies provided by McLaren and [whistleblower Grigory] Rodchenkov,” said Kolobkov.

“The decision speaks for itself, they have been cleared by professional judges.

“If they demand that we recognise the McLaren report, it means there is no evidence and demands are taking the place of real evidence.”

Source: bbc.com