The International Olympic Committee (IOC) Athletes Commission has released a statement concerning recent developments in the ongoing saga involving reinstatement of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA).
As a refresher, the RUSADA had been suspended since 2016, but was controversially reinstated in the fall of 2018. That move by WADA came with widespread outside criticism from many groups and individuals who felt WADA placed too few requirements on Russia to regain compliance.
WADA had set a December 31st deadline to meet the conditions, which included an on-site audit, or once again be found non-compliant. If non-compliant, RUSADA would face even tough sanctions with the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games looming.
However, as we reported last month, the WADA inspection team was denied access to raw data in the Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) during its inspection.
The United States Anti-Doping Agency’s president Travis Tygart reacted by calling entire process “a total joke and an embarrassment for WADA” and saying that WADA was “being played by the Russians.” The U.S., U.K. and at least 14 other anti-doping agencies have called on WADA to ban Russia.
The IOC Athletes Commission, headed by now-retired Olympic swimmer Kirsty Coventry, Sports Minister for Zimbabwe, released the following pertaining to its stance on these developments:
As members of the IOC Athletes’ Commission, we are extremely disappointed and concerned by the fact that RUSADA has missed the deadline of 31 December 2018 to hand over the LIMS data from the Moscow laboratory to WADA.
Over the past months, we supported the provisional reinstatement of RUSADA for three main reasons:
1. by provisionally reinstating RUSADA, Russian athletes could be tested more regularly and effectively,
2. should RUSADA miss the set deadline, stronger and more effective sanctions would be imposed on Russia, thanks to the new International Standard for Code Compliance by Signatories (ISCCS), and
3. the provisional reinstatement of RUSADA with a clear deadline provided us with a clear process and timeline to resolve a situation that has been ongoing since 2015.
In the past months, we as the IOC Athletes’ Commission asked athletes for their patience and promised that we will advocate for strong actions should Russia not meet the two final requirements.