After two days of media storm surrounding the release of the report by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)’s Independent Commission (IC), accusing the Russian Athletics Federation of systematic doping, cover-ups, extortion and intimidation, FINA has issued a press release to express “its deep concern.” (See our coverage of the IC’s report here and here and here.)
FINA President Dr. Julio C. Maglione said: “Of course this is a difficult time for sport, and as sports people we at FINA are shocked and saddened by WADA’s Independent Commission report. FINA upholds a strong and unequivocal stance on the practice of doping as we aim to eradicate doping from Aquatics. FINA is committed to do everything necessary to become the world’s cleanest sport.”
In its press release, FINA sought to reassure the public regarding the integrity of its anti-doping control policy. It explained that during the 2015 FINA World Championships in Kazan, Russia, 457 urine and 188 blood tests were collected during in-competition testing, as well as another 418 blood samples used for Athlete Biological Passport program. Those tests were analyzed in the (then-) WADA-accredited laboratory in Moscow, “under the supervision of independent observers from the WADA-accredited laboratories” in Barcelona, Spain and London, UK. Now, each of the samples collected in Kazan “will be transferred and stored in the WADA-accredited laboratory in Barcelona.”
Regarding the integrity of samples taken from Russian aquatics athletes, FINA stated that out-of-competition testing in Russia is performed by an independent Swedish company. In 2014, most of the samples were analyzed by the WADA-accredited facility in Moscow, “which had been judged fully compliant with the WADA code at the time.” Last winter, after WADA announced the details of the IC’s investigation, however, FINA moved most of the analysis of samples belonging to Russian athletes to Barcelona and Cologne, Germany. Samples from Russian athletes living outside of the country were tested in the WADA-accredited laboratories in Montreal and Salt Lake City.
Meanwhile, in developing news, Grigory Rodchenkov, the head of the Moscow laboratory at the heart of the investigation, stepped down following WADA’s announcement it would immediately suspended the lab’s accreditation. Rodchenkov has admitted to destroying some 1417 blood and urine samples to thwart the IC’s investigation of the lab. The IC’s report proposed a lifetime ban on Rodchenkov; he, in turn, called WADA “idiots”. However, in the wake of yesterday’s suspension of the lab’s accreditation, Rodchenkov came under pressure from Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko to resign. The AFP reported today that Mutko is open to hiring “a foreign specialist” to head the Moscow laboratory.