In a follow-up to its ground-breaking report last November on the state of doping within Russian athletics, the WADA Independent Commission has released a second report centered on criminal activity connected to the original allegations.
The first World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Independent Commission report made startling allegations that rattled the state of athletics and world-level sports in general. Included in that report were accusations that Russian officials were concealing positive drug tests, destroying relevant samples and sending government agents into the Moscow WADA lab undercover to help athletes avoid drug-related suspensions. You can read our coverage of that first report here and here.
The second report follows up on that, alleging institutionalized corruption that went all the way up to the president of the Russian Athletics Federation.
Note: The term “athletics” refers specifically to the sport of track and field. The WADA reports are focused specifically on the sport of athletics within Russia, and not on other sports or other countries.
Because the report is directly aimed at athletics, it doesn’t comment on the state of swimming in Russia. However, the report does make a few allegations that are tangentially related to current news in swimming:
1. Report credits nepotism and cronyism with allowing corruption
On page 4 of the report, the Independent Commission notes that Lamine Diack, the former president of the international athletics federation (IAAF), was able to get away with the alleged corruption through a combination of a long term of office and appointing friends and relatives to high posts within the IAAF. Diack served four consecutive terms as IAAF president, a period of 16 years.
Through his long term, Diack was able to appoint three people to posts that “operated outside the formal heirarchichal structure of the IAAF” – two of them his sons Papa Masada and Khalil. The third was his legal advisor Habib Cisse (more on him below).
FINA has faced some debate recently regarding term limits and age limits on its high-level officials. President Julio Maglione is currently wrapping up his third term as FINA president, but has spoken out in favor of abolishing both age limits and term limits on the position, which would allow him to run for a third term in 2017. The regional federation governing North and South America has already endorsed Maglione to run for a third term, and also elected Dale Neuberger to remain Vice President through 2021. Neuberger has been in that position since 2000.
2. An endorsement for Athlete Biological Passports?
The report alleges that Diack specifically Cisse, his legal advisor, to manage Russian athletes with anti-doping cases involving Athlete Biological Passports, or ABPs. ABPs are a newer, more complex form of drug testing that combines blood and urine tests over time to create a detailed profile for each individual athlete to detect when that athlete is trying to illegally improve their performance in a way that would not show up in traditional anti-doping tests.
At least one analysis of the second WADA Independent Commission report suggests that ABPs are working. LetsRun.com says that Diack’s appointment of Cisse to specifically manage ABPs is evidence that the ABPs were harder tests to cheat. “The Russians were great at cheating the old doping system, but did not know how to evade the new Biological Passport system,” the site writes.
If true, that’s good news for the future of anti-doping efforts, with drug-aided athletes finding it more difficult to dodge the more comprehensive ABP tests.
3. Bribery in hosting bids, including Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics?
The report alleges that bribery may have been involved in the selection of host cities for the Athletics World Championships, and a footnote takes that accusation further to draw in the 2020 Olympic Games.
“There may be reason to believe that senior IAAF officials and others acting on their behalf may have benefitted from decisions of the IAAF to award certain cities and countries the IAAF Athletics World Championships,” the report notes on page 34.
The footnote on that line goes on to detail allegations that Turkey, when vying to host the 2020 Olympics, lost the support of Athletics President Diang because they didn’t pay $4 to $5 million in sponsorship money to the IAAF. The footnote alleges that Japan did pay that money, and ultimately ended up winning the Olympic bid for 2020.
WADA’s Independent Commission didn’t investigate this potential bribery further because the commission was only intended to investigate athletics within Russia, with Olympic bids in Japan falling outside the scope of that investigation.
WADA also released video of its press conference announcing the report, with commission chair Dick Pound explaining some of its findings. You can view that video at the top of this post.