Two major organizations have joined the chorus of statements being released in wake of Thursday’s reinstatement of RUSADA (Russian anti-doping agency) by the WADA with reduced standards of compliance.
According to the @Athlete365 Twitter account, which is an official account of the International Olympic Committee, the IOC Athletes’ Commission was the biggest international organization (besides WADA itself) to support the move.
The IOC Athletes’ Commission is led by former Zimbabwean swimmer Kirsty Coventry, who previously served on the Foundation Board of WADA and as a member of the WADA Athletic Committee. Coventry is a 7-time Olympic medalist, including back-to-back golds in the 200 back at the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games. Coventry retweeted the official statement of the Athletes’ Commission.
The Tweet reads: “The IOC Athletes’ Commission have discussed in detail the recommendations of the (WADA) Compliance Review Committee (CRC) and agreed in principle with the recommendations made. We would like to see a clear process & timeline for receiving & fully verifying the lab data.”
The IOC Athletes' Commission have discussed in detail the recommendations of the @wada_ama Compliance Review Committee (CRC) and agreed in principle with the recommendations made. We would like to see a clear process & timeline for receiving & fully verifying the lab data.
— Athlete365 (@Athlete365) September 19, 2018
Full list of current members of the committee, which includes Yelena Isinbayeva: the former head of RUSADA who was ousted in 2017 after WADA warned that the organization would remain banned if she remained in charge because of criticisms that she levied at the punishment:
- Kirsty Coventry, Zimbabwe, swimming – chair
- Danka Bartekova, Slovakia, shooting – vice-chair
- Sarah Walker, New Zealand, BMX cycling – member
- Daniel Gyurta, Hungary, swimming – member
- Seung Min Ryu, South Korea, table tennis – member
- Luis Scola, Argentina, basketball – member
- James Tomkins, Australia, bowling – member
- Hayley Wickenheiser, Canada, ice hockey – member
- Nadin Dawani, Jordan, taekwondo – member
- Aya Medany, Egypt, modern pentathlon – member
- Patrick Singleton, Bermuda, skeleton – World Olympians Association representative
- Chelsey Gotell, Canada, swimming – IPC representative (para-sport)
- Britta Heidemann, Germany, fencing – member
- Stefan Holm, Sweden, athletics – member
- Yelena Isinbaeva, Russia, athletics – member
- Tony Estanguet, France, canoe slalom – member
- Emma Terho, Finland, ice hockey – member
- Kikkan Randall, USA, cross country skiing – member
- Hong Zhang, China, speed skating – member
- Abhinav Bindra, India, shooting – member
While the group is deemed to be the representative of Olympic athletes within the IOC, their statement seems to be at odds with opinions of many Olympic athletes. That includes the IAAF (track & field) Athletes’ Commission, who sent WADA a letter objecting to the revised reinstatement plan:
— IAAF (@iaaforg) September 19, 2018
7 of the 20 members of the Athletes’ Commission itself also signed a letter that objected to the decision: Ben Sandford, Chiel Warner, Greta Neimans, Hayley Wickenheiser, Vicki Aggar, Petr Koukal, and Richard Schmidt. None of the 3 swimmers on the committee signed the dissent letter.
Other athletes and athlete organizations that spoke out against the decision:
- British Olympic Association Athletes’ Commission chair Ben Hawes
- 4-time Olympic medalist Matthew Pinsent
- WADA Athletes’ Commission chair Beckie Scott (who resigned from the Compliance Review Committee that approved of the changes).
- USOC Athletes’ Commission
- USA Swimming Athletes’ Committee
- Canadian Olympic Athletes’ Commission
The American equivalent doping regulator USADA also released a statement in opposition to the changes made by WADA, via its CEO Travis Tygart:
“Today marked the biggest decision in the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)’s history, and it delivered a devastating blow to the world’s clean athletes. By ripping up the very ‘Roadmap’ it created, WADA’s decision to reinstate Russia despite the nation not having met the two remaining Roadmap conditions is bewildering and inexplicable. In its landmark meeting today, WADA sent one clear message to the world: we put the wishes of a small handful of sports administrators above the rights of millions of clean athletes and the dreams of billions of sports fans.
There is, however, a far bigger issue at stake following today’s WADA U-Turn than Russian compliance- and that is the clear message about the type of WADA that WADA has chosen to be versus the type of WADA the world wants to see.
Over the last week, the world’s athletes have made it abundantly clear what WADA they want. Athletes from Germany, Australia, the Netherlands, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States have come out like never before to demand a robust, independent and confident WADA that stands on its own two feet. The world’s athletes want the International Olympic Committee (IOC) – and the conflict that their involvement brings to clean sport – to stay well away from WADA. They want a WADA with teeth, authority, sanctioning power and the determination to get the job done of cleaning up sport and restoring the trust of the billions of sports fans and athletes worldwide. Today, that job must start – and it starts by reforming WADA and giving it the power to regulate as any good global watchdog must do. It starts by WADA actually listening to the world’s clean athletes who are speaking up, right here and right now. It starts by removing the inherent conflict of interest that comes about from the IOC fox guarding the WADA henhouse. The road to the new, stronger WADA must start now. And let’s be clear: absolutely nothing will be off the table for how we, the anti-doping community, begin the work of reforming WADA.”