Tag Archives: Yuri Ganus

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.


UK athletes call for Russia ban to stay

The World Anti-Doping Agency’s compliance review committee has recommended that Russia’s anti-doping agency (Rusada) remains suspended.

The independent panel was set up in 2015 and increased its role in 2016 in response to Russia’s doping scandal.

Wada will vote whether to reinstate Rusada on 20 September.

In a letter seen by BBC Sport, the committee says Russia falls short on two demands set out by Wada in August 2017.

Earlier on Thursday a group of UK athletes demanded the ban remains until Rusada overhauls its anti-doping systems.

Russia’s readmission would be “a catastrophe for clean sport”, says the UK Anti-Doping Athlete Commission.

It warns that “athletes will no longer have faith in the system” if Russia is allowed back.

Rusada has been suspended since 2015 after it was accused of covering up drug abuse – including while the country hosted the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics – in a report by lawyer Richard McLaren.

The UK Anti-Doping Athlete Commission says Russia is yet to comply with all the conditions of Wada’s road-map to compliance.

“To ignore these conditions, ignores the wishes of the athletes you are there to protect,” it added in an open letter to Wada president Sir Craig Reedie.

“It will undermine trust in the essence of fair play on which sport is formed.”

Olympic track cycling champion Callum Skinner and skeleton bronze medallist Laura Deas are part of the group.

Three-time Olympic champion Andrew Triggs Hodge and fellow rower Sarah Winckless, Paralympic power lifter silver medallist Ali Jawad and backstroke world champion Liam Tancock are also members.

Russian anti-doping director Yuri Ganus said earlier this month that he was pessimistic about his country’s chances of being reinstated.

Russia ignored four requests to inspect anti-doping lab, says Wada

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.