Key panel member quits after Russia doping recommendation
An Olympic champion who is one of the most high-profile athletes in the anti-doping movement stepped down from a key review panel a day after that panel surprisingly recommended reinstatement of Russia’s anti-doping agency.
Beckie Scott told The Associated Press she left her position on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s six-person compliance review committee. Her departure came after WADA made changes to some of the most stringent requirements to bring RUSADA back into compliance following a nearly three-year suspension.
The WADA executive committee meets next week to decide whether to accept the review panel’s recommendation.
WADA softened a demand that Russia accept the findings of an investigation by Richard McLaren, which concluded that its government directed an intricate doping scheme that led to the country winning Olympic medals. In place of that requirement, WADA asked Russia to accept findings from the IOC-appointed Schmid Commission, which took a less-harsh view of the Russian government’s role in the scheme.
Russia also has agreed to turn over data and doping samples that could help corroborate positive tests, though no firm date has been set. The review panel urged the executive committee to get assurances from Russia’s sports ministry.
When WADA announced the review panel’s decision Friday, it came under fire from athletes and anti-doping leaders around the world, who decried, among other things, the agency’s lack of transparency.
In response, WADA released six letters Saturday detailing the negotiations between the review committee, WADA leaders, including Olivier Niggli and Craig Reedie, and the Russian minister of sport, Pavel Kolobkov.
In an email sent to media that linked to the letters, WADA said it “has been leading the drive to ensure that Russia meets the Roadmap in full.”
“The fact is that leadership requires flexibility,” the email said. “The proposals made in the … letter are grounded in pragmatism and are nuanced interpretations of the Roadmap in order to bring matters to a conclusion and to not allow the significant progress that the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) has made over the last two years, under WADA’s supervision, to be undone.”
But Scott wasn’t the only one dissatisfied with the process.
German athletes’ representative Silke Kassner called on WADA to postpone next week’s decision and said Niggli and Reedie have learned “absolutely nothing. … Whole process much too intransparent and at late notice.”
And Edwin Moses, the chairman of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, wrote in an op-ed in The New York Times that the WADA decision “has sparked shock among sports fans and clean athletes worldwide, who, like me, and with no transparency from the global anti-doping body, are scratching their heads at this abrupt, curiously timed development.”
One of WADA’s reworked requirements was that instead of publically accepting findings from the McLaren Report, Russia specifically accept a finding in the Schmid report that stated “a number of individuals within the Ministry of Sport and its subordinated entities’ were involved in the ‘manipulations’.”
Russia’s ultimate response, in a letter sent by Kolobkov on Thursday: “The Russian Federation fully accepted the decision of the IOC Executive Board … that was made based on the findings of the Schmid report.” The review panel deemed that acceptable.
Regarding the data and samples, Kolobkov wrote that Russia would facilitate handing them over “After the reinstatement of RUSADA and the consent of the Russian Investigative Committee,” which has been conducting its own probe into who was responsible for the doping scheme.
WADA, in its email, said if the data isn’t provided within a strict time limit, then the review committee will recommend to the executive committee that RUSADA be again declared noncompliant.