Reedie bans Russia on eve of retirement; lest we forget his attempt to Reinstate the Cheating Nation

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Sir Craig Reedie leaves the position as president of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on a high note, but in September 2018, things didn’t look positive for the 77-year-old Scot. At that time, he was campaigning to reinstate Russia to international sport. He justified his argument by lashing out at complaining athletes, to come up with a better idea.

“I have a question for the athletes and that is what, in practice, is the alternative option,” he said.

“There is a crucial element in what we have been doing and that is getting access to samples and data that will allow ongoing cases to continue.”

“I am used to athletes complaining but I really want to know what their alternates are.”

Perhaps he should have remained quiet with his opinion.

Meanwhile, Russia was roadblocking WADA from getting to the infamous Moscow Laboratory to access data. By the time – at least the third attempt – WADA extracted the data and later found that it had been tampered with – to no one’s surprise.

Following, Reedie quietly ate his words and worked to have the embattled nation banned from all sports.

Reedie is retiring from the position on a high note as he successfully gained approval to have Russia banned for another four years. For this, he should be congratulated.

According to Inside the Games, “Proceedings in Lausanne on Monday, under the full glare of the global media spotlight, on the whole, displayed the World Anti-Doping Agency at its best.”

Reedie steps down on Dec. 31, 2019, after six years as president.

Winning-by-cheating in sport is not just morally corrupt, it is also illegal because, for those who win endorsement contracts, prize money and carding from their national governing body by way of cheating are stealing from the athletes who choose not to cheat. Long is the list of careers that fell short of their true glory. Perhaps longer would be the unfinished list of cheaters who became champions.

Since 1896, Russia has medalled (1,865) in the Olympic Games more than every country except for the United States (2,520). The Russians (Soviet Union, Russian Empire) have been stripped of 51 medals, four times as many as the next most penalized country. This includes 14 nations that have gained independence from Russia.

Regardless, Reedie felt in Sept. 2018 that the promise of retaining samples from Russian testing labs was enough to reinstate Russia to international sport – a country with a deep culture of cheating.

This is where the president had it glaringly wrong.

At the time, Reedie insisted the compromise reached with Russia was the right call as he launched another impassioned defence of the process which led to the controversial verdict to declare the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) compliant again.

He wrote an open letter aimed at addressing concerns raised following the Executive Committee’s decision to reinstate RUSADA at a meeting in the Seychelles in early Sept. 2018. He said he was hopeful WADA’s credibility had not been damaged following a tumultuous period for the organisation – it had.

RUSADA being declared compliant following a deal struck between WADA and Russian authorities, which saw the global watchdog soften the two remaining criteria on the body’s compliance roadmap, sparked outrage from athletes and national anti-doping groups.

“If you look back at the 21 months since the roadmap was put in place there has been a complete refusal by the Russian authorities to meet the last two conditions,” Sir Craig added.

Yes, and it was a good thing he came to his senses and worked just as hard to have them banned across all sports for another four years. Let’s not forget this time in Russia’s dirty history and WADA’s near miss.