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Anti-Doping Organizations Call for WADA Reforms After Rio 2016 Russian Controversy

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A number of “wide-ranging” reforms within the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) have been proposed following a special summit of 17 National Anti-Doping Organizations (NADOs) in the wake of the controversy caused by the Russian scandal.

The group, which met in Copenhagen yesterday, believe the fight against doping in sport is at a “crossroads.”

They have called for WADA to become more independent by removing what they described as a “fundamental conflict of interest” in the anti-doping decision-making process.

The NADOs believe that WADA officials should not simultaneously hold a position within another sport or event.

This follows continued criticism of WADA President Sir Craig Reedie, who was also a vice-president and member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board before his term ended following the conclusion of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

IOC President Thomas Bach had attempted to make WADA the scapegoat for the confusion and controversy which surrounded Russia’s participation at the Rio 2016 Olympics during the session ahead of the event.

Bach claimed the IOC “cannot be made responsible either for the timing or the reasons of these incidents we have to face now and which we are addressing and have to address now just a couple of days before the Olympic Games.”

The leaders of the 17 NADOs who were present in the Danish capital have also lobbied for “an important proposal” to separate investigatory, testing and results management functions from sports organisations.

They believe this would “prevent the inherent conflict of interest that exists when a sports organisation is tasked with both promoting and policing itself.”

Other reforms proposed include amending the WADA code to strengthen the available sanctions for “large-scale subversions of the anti-doping system,” such as the alleged state-sponsored scheme in Russia, which led to the nation’s partial exile from the Rio 2016 Olympics and blanket ban from the Paralympics.

The NADOs have reiterated their desire for increased investment in WADA to help better fund anti-doping practices while urging better protection should be given to whistleblowers, including the likes of Yuliya Stepanova and Vitaly Stepanov.

They called for “a public commitment from the International Olympic Committee and Russia to assist in guaranteeing the safety, security and well-being” of the Russian duo, whose whistleblowing led to the WADA Independent Commission reports.

Earlier this month, Stepanova, a former 800 metres runner, launched a devastating attack on the IOC and Bach, claiming they had been offered “no support” and have sought to use the situation only to benefit their “own position.”

The Russian has also stated recently that she fears for her life after her Anti-Doping Administration & Management System (ADAMS) account, which shows her whereabouts, was hacked.

“As a dedicated group of NADO leaders from around the world, we recognise we are at a crossroads in the fight for clean sport,” said the leaders in a joint statement. “With the best interests of clean athletes at heart, we have come together to discuss reforms that we believe will better protect them, restore confidence in the global anti-doping effort that has been deeply damaged, and ensure that the disturbing events of recent years are not repeated.”

The proposals were written and endorsed by anti-doping leaders from around the world, including Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Singapore, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States as well as the Institute of National Anti-Doping Organisations.

In response to the suggestions, WADA director general Olivier Niggli said in a statement sent to insidethegames: “At this crucial time for clean sport, WADA is encouraged by this support and looks forward to continuing to work with its partners in leading the fight for the protection of clean athletes’ rights.”

WADA, who did not participate in the NADOs meeting but were “informed in advance that it would be held and embraced the initiative as it does all constructive proposals”, also said they expected further proposals to be made at Olympic Summit on October 8.

“On 19 and 20 November respectively, all proposals will be reviewed by the Agency’s Executive Committee and Foundation Board – both that are composed equally by representatives of government and the Olympic Movement, including athletes.

“Following the meetings, a roadmap will be drawn up that will set the direction for the future of the anti-doping movement,” a statement from the organisation read.

By Liam Morgan

Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz

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