On Wednesday, the USA Swimming Athletes’ Committee released a statement in response to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) plan to officially reinstate the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), finally bringing the organization’s nearly three-year ban to an end. The vote to restore RUSADA’s power and authority as a legitimate and objective force in the international fight against doping will take place Thursday, September 20th, when the WADA Executive Committee convenes in the Seychelles.
Though RUSADA was ruled to be non-compliant by WADA in November of 2015, the state of Russian sports got a whole lot worse when the shocking McLaren Report was released in July 2016, revealing a State-sponsored doping scheme in Russian sports. Though neither the Russian State, Ministry of Sport, Olympic Committee, nor RUSADA has admitted to the existence of a State-sponsored doping scheme, Russian President Vladimir Putin did once say that Russia’s anti-doping system was a failure.
While RUSADA has met most of the criteria put before it to become compliant once again with WADA, it has steadfastly refused two outstanding measures to be reinstated:
- Admit the findings of the McLaren Report are true and that a State-sponsored doping scheme existed in Russia, and
- Allow WADA officials access to the Moscow Laboratory, its samples and data.
The controversy surrounding the WADA’s recent decision to vote to reinstate RUSADA has arisen because RUSADA still refuses to meet these demands. However, per a suggestion from WADA’s own Compliance Review Commission (CRC), the WADA Executive Committee has been urged to accept the following amended terms instead:
- RUSADA will accept the findings of the IOC Disciplinary Commission’s report, also known as the Schmid Report, which due to an “evolution of wording” no longer declares that at State-sponsored doping scheme existed in Russian sports, but rather that “An institutional conspiracy existed across summer and winter sports athletes who participated with Russian officials within the Ministry of Sport and its infrastructure, such as RUSADA, CSP and the Moscow Laboratory, along with the FSB for the purposes of manipulating doping controls.”; and that
- RUSADA allows only one “independent expert” access to the Moscow Laboratory, its samples and data, as opposed to a team of WADA officials.
WADA maintains that despite the amendments to the stipulations it originally put in place, the RUSADA Roadmap to Compliance will still be met.
Tuesday, the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) issued a statement from CEO Sarah Hirschland regarding the vote to reinstate RUSADA, saying that it hopes WADA “can reach a conclusion on RUSADA that will give athletes a firm belief that when they compete, it will be on a level playing field, without any doubts.”
The statement from the USA Swimming Athletes’ Committee is below:
USA Swimming Athletes’ Committee Statement on World Anti-Doping Agency Plan to
Accelerate Russia Reinstatement
Colorado Springs, Colorado – The USA Swimming Athletes’ Committee has consistently expressed that clean sport is the cornerstone of competitive excellence in sport. In recognition of our unwavering position, we stand with fellow athletes worldwide in support of clean sport and insist that the World Anti-Doping Agency Executive Committee vote to hold their original course on the plan for reinstatement of Russia.
WADA took clear, decisive action, instituting a clear roadmap by which Russia can achieve reinstatement. To accelerate the reinstatement process before all of the conditions are met is capitulation.
The rules are clear; they exist to ensure that clean sport is achieved in an independent, fair, and justified manner. It is our future, our sport, and our responsibility to demand that the rules are enforced.
We insist that WADA stands with us – athletes who cherish and uphold the fundamental principles of the Olympic movement: spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play – as we stand together with athletes around the world, in urging WADA to hold the line on the Russia Roadmap.