A gathering in Lausanne of World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) executives – together with relevant international authorities, intent on containing Russian hackers, who have exposed confidential medical details of drugs legitimately authorized for prominent Olympic athletes – moved towards consensus on renewed security, over the past two days.
If it is possible to be optimistic about urgent reaction to criminal activity, acutely embarrassing to innocent athletes, it is that the Russian ‘salvation commission’ under the direction of Vitaly Smirnov – former longest-serving IOC Member from Russia who retired last year – is believed, unofficially, to have been initiated by President Putin.
Such conjecture is, in my opinion, highly probable, when recollecting Putin’s meeting over dinner with several IF winter sports presidents immediately prior to the vote for Sochi as host in 2007 in Guatemala.
Knowing that Russia’s all-powerful head of state was intimately involved in the campaign to host the Winter Games two years ago, it is certain that, though protesting against suspension of many athletes from Rio’s Games and total exclusion from the Paralympics, Putin will recognize, privately, that Russia has to resolve its doping crisis.
Corrupt falsification of positive tests in Sochi, revealed by Canadian Professor MacLaren’s independent inquiry, may yet incur further sanctions by the IOC, but Putin will be determined that compliant WADA-code testing in Moscow is reestablished in time for Tokyo 2020: indeed, well before, if ‘clean’ Russia is to be welcomed back onto the international event circuit in all sports.
There are two WADA experts currently in Moscow working in collaboration with Smirnov to achieve the objective of re-configuring Moscow’s laboratory. It is essential that this is achieved without involvement of the sports ministry, wholly implicated in the Sochi scandal. At the Lausanne meeting there appears to have been unified agreement that WADA must remain the senior regulator of anti-doping authority, and must make defense of its policies, and their security, more robust and effective.
There are two technical experts at HQ in Montreal devising greater protection of individual confidential records. An embarrassment is that some of these records of TUEs (therapeutic use exemption) are in fact out of date. The hackers are calculated to be accomplished – the same as those damaging the US Democratic Party.
With Maclaren’s final report expected by the end of October, the ‘think tank’ in Lausanne discussed many items: revision/extension of the prohibited-list code; revised compliance regulations; re-estimate of TUEs that might controversially be termed simultaneously performance enhancing; additional powers that might aid WADA’s competence.
Discussion for the projected principle that no elected, potentially partisan sports administrator should serve with WADA was apparently equivocal. Some argued that this could forfeit the advantage of insider knowledge acquired over years.
The difficulty for Russia will be negotiating an amnesty with the IOC – in the wake of likely further damaging revelations by MacLaren – rather than extended penalties. In the long term, the IOC needs equilibrium with one of the two most powerful NOCs. And USOC have to leave off cold-war hostility, themselves having a discredited doping history.
By David Miller
This story first appeared in the blog, The Sport Intern. The editor is Karl-Heinz Huba of Lorsch, Germany. He can be reached at ISMG@aol.com. The article is reprinted here with permission of Huba.