Olympic skiing champion calls for quicker progress in tackling Russian doping beyond athletics

 

Canada’s Salt Lake City 2002 cross-country skiing Olympic gold medallist and World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Athletes’ Committee chair Beckie Scott has criticised sporting governing bodies for their slow progress in tackling Russian doping in sports other than athletics.

WADA’s Independent Commission published allegations of systemic doping across Russian athletics in November but did not have the remit to investigate other sports. 

The world’s largest country was subsequently declared non-compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code by the WADA Foundation Board, with Scott calling for the Commission’s remit to be extended to other sports during the meeting.

She is disappointed with how much progress there has been in the last two months.

“It’s really gutting to know the amount of cheating has been going on for so long, and it’s still going on,” she told the National Post.

“Quite honestly the reaction from some of the sport organisations has been pretty disappointing.

“There hasn’t been enough people standing up saying, ‘This is an abomination, it has to stop.’”

Scott knows more than most what it feels like to compete against doped athletes, with the Canadian having initially finished third in the 5 and 5 kilometres combined pursuit in Salt Lake City behind two Russians, the winner Olga Danilova and second-placed finisher Larissa Lazutina.

They were both disqualified for using darbepoetin, a synthetic form of erythropoietin, meaning Scott was upgraded to the gold medal.

Russia has been suspended by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and faces not being allowed to compete at this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in the sport unless the ban is lifted.

There has been little interest so far, however, in investigating other disciplines, despite the large number of Russian competitors testing positive for banned drugs in sports ranging from swimming to triathlon. 

Two more Russian weightlifters have been banned today, while double European team sprint cycling champion Yelena Brezhniva has been handed a four-year ban.

Concerns are also high in winter sports after a raft of Russian failures in biathlon and cross-country skiing, with the WADA Commission claiming the FSB secret police interfered in the activities of the Sochi laboratory in existence for the duration of last year’s Winter Olympics and Paralympics.

Others have claimed different doping provisions took place for Russians and those from other countries during the Olympics. 

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) have claimed there is “no reason” to question the credibility of the anti-doping testing regime carried out at Sochi 2014 and has shown no interest in investigating further. 

“It’s frustrating,” added Scott, a former member of the IOC Athletes’ Commission, who has also now relinquished her place on the WADA Foundation Board.

“I really felt back in 2002 that this was a watershed moment for sport.

“The scandal in Salt Lake City was really going to change things.

“Now, looking back, nothing has changed.

“If anything, it’s just got more sophisticated.”

  • By Nick Butler
    • Republished with permission insidethegames.biz 
 

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