Three of the eight members of FINA’s Doping Control Review Board (DCRB), including Chairman Dr. Andrew Pipe, have resigned, reportedly in response to FINA’s handling of the Russian doping situation at the Rio Olympics.
Irish broadcaster RTE is reporting that the in trio’s letter of resignation to FINA president Dr. Julio Maglione, the board members said FINA disregarded the DCRB’s recommendation. According to the letter, the board unanimously agreed upon a process to assess each Russian swimmer’s Rio eligibility, but FINA bypassed the process.
“Despite the anti-doping expertise of the individuals who make up the DCRB, FINA chose to ignore our advice,” the resignation letter said.
“We learned of FINA’s decisions regarding the eligibility of Russian competitors only by observing the Olympic competition…” it continued. “We were disappointed to note that our recommendations were not followed – and even more disappointed to receive no specific response to a subsequent written request for information regarding the reasons for FINA’s decision.”
The DCRB was called upon to evaluate the eligibility of Russian competitors as requested by FINA and the IOC in response to Russia’s state-sponsored doping program unearthed by the McLaren report.
In a press release published this morning, FINA responded that the ultimate decision rested with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Court for Arbitration of Sport (CAS).
“Concerning the claims expressed in their resignation letter, FINA would like to clarify that the Olympic Games are an IOC event,” the release said. “For Rio 2016, the decision on the participation of the Russian athletes has been made by the CAS and the IOC. FINA fully respected and implemented their decisions.”
However, this statement runs contrary to IOC President Thomas Bach‘s initial statement on the Russian doping decision on a conference call with world media. On the call, Bach stated that the ultimate decision would rest with the individual sports federations (FINA, in swimming’s case), helped along by an impartial arbitrator.
Meanwhile, the CAS press releases concerning the final decisions in cases like Yulia Efimova‘s cited the ultimate resolution as a joint decision among the Russian Olympic Committee, FINA, and the IOC. Given the conflicting reports, it is unclear who made the final call to allow the Russian swimmers in question to compete.
In his statement today, Maglione underscored FINA’s commitment to clean sport.
“I am sure you agree that FINA is in the forefront of the fight against doping with an important financial investment in doping control activities. FINA always coordinates with all stakeholders in the sport movement to assure that transparency and zero tolerance in the fight against doping is in place, thus protecting the clean athletes,” Maglione said.
The press release did not confirm which other two members are resigning alongside Pipe.