The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), the first governing body of any sport to internationally ban Russia from competition, is holding fast – this is good. This, despite the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) plans to lift their respective suspensions. No good can come of this.
Shame on WADA and the IOC and the old boy’s club they perpetuate.
The IAAF warned Russia as have the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) not to expect their bans to be lifted following the decision by WADA and like rumours by the IOC.
WADA announced on Sept. 15 the reinstatement of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA). Three days later Canadian Beckie Scott resigned her position with the Compliance Review Committee.
At that time, correspondence published by WADA following leaks to BBC Sport provided information that WADA President Sir Craig Reedie and Director General Olivier Niggli agreed to soften the two remaining criteria of its compliance roadmap for RUSADA’s reinstatement efforts.
But there may be dissension in the ranks as WADA vice-president Linda Helleland said she will vote against the reinstatement of the RUSADA as she cautioned that the “compromise reached with Russia undermines the credibility of the organisation.”
A deep culture of cheating cannot be undone by bending rules or guidelines that make up that roadmap; it removes the consequences from the wrongdoing. Doping which results in theft at the athlete level should be punishable by law. As should the apparent bribery, extortion and coverups that take place in the process. It is clear that WADA and the IOC are currently functioning under a law unto themselves.
Earlier this year, Canada’s Dick Pound, the most senior IOC member and a veteran lawyer who has frequently clashed with the organisation’s leadership on the issue of Russian doping was left off of the legal panel for 2018 – this has been seen as a cleansing of anyone who disagrees with President Thomas Bach.
His exclusion from the legal panel is significant. The panel had retained genuine importance throughout the process helping to write policy on issues that included the joint awarding of the 2024 and 2028 Olympic Games as well anti-doping appeals.
Pound accused IOC colleague Gerardo Werthein of an extraordinary attack during an angry exchange which followed him criticising the organisation’s response to the Russian doping crisis.
The accusation came during a three-hour discussion to open the 132nd IOC Session which represented the most detailed and balanced exchange of views on the issue by the membership since concerns about the extent of doping in Russian sport first became public in 2014, thanks to investigative journalism by various media including ARDTV, the Guardian and the New York Times.
Pound argued that a large portion of the world believes the IOC has failed and let down clean athletes; it has.
Pound has also been removed as chairman of the Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS) Board for both its Spanish and Swiss operations.
Earlier this summer, Athletics Illustrated asked Pound if Bach was in the process of surrounding himself with people who only agree with him, he said, “Well, dissent is not exactly encouraged. Personally, nothing worries me more than an organization in which all decisions are unanimous. The issues are too complex to insist on that.”
Pound is the former president of WADA. It was his brainchild. He is also a former vice-president of the IOC and has served on several boards and committees for WADA and the IOC over the years.
Starting in 1978, Pound revolutionised the Olympic movement by leveraging very large and lucrative television and sponsorship agreements that he was instrumental in creating; to re-shape the IOC into a multi-billion dollar enterprise.
The former Olympic athlete is beginning to pay for speaking out against the IOC and Russia’s relationship during the tenure of this ban.
“The effort to reconcile with Russia has been there from the outset,” shared Pound. “Although the direction should be different – Russia should be trying to reconcile with the organisation on whose values it trampled, not the other way around.”
The two main conditions that were remaining on the roadmap, included an acknowledgment of the findings of the McLaren and Schmid Commissions that Russian Sports Ministry officials were implicated in the scheme to cover up the doping of Russian athletes as described in their report.
Additionally, Russia was to provide access to data from testing of samples at the Moscow Laboratory from 2011 to 2015 so the Athletics Integrity Unit can determine whether the suspicious findings reported in the Moscow lab’s LIMS database should be pursued.
The IAAF wants the Russian government to pay their expenses incurred in the investigation and for the setting up of the task force headed by Norway’s Rune Andersen, a figure believed to be run into several million dollars.
The IAAF is due to discuss the situation at their next Council meeting in Monaco on Dec. 3 and 4 but will not consider lifting the ban until all the data from the Moscow has been evaluated.
The governing bodies are clearly not functioning in parallel paths to the end goal to clean up international sport. The IAAF and IPC and apparently the AIU are, while perversely, WADA and the IOC are not.
Meanwhile, doping, not just in Russia, will continue on mostly unabated. The public – those who pay for tickets and frequent the sponsors – are not being fooled.