WADA and sport will be improved by an independent look back at what went right, what went wrong and what can be learned.
Consider this partial timeline:
- 2008: Seven Russians are caught with swapped urine samples, according to a scientist working for WADA: "it raises a flag as to some sort of organized initiative to evade detection" and also a WADA VP and head of IOC medical commission, "This does seem to be an example of systematic planned doping."
- 2009: IAAF was aware of massive doping among Russian athletes: "But in 2009, as a sophisticated new blood-testing program was launched, IAAF tests were already providing shocking insight into the scale and gravity of Russian doping."
- 2010: "From the beginning in 2010, [Vitaly] Stepanov said, he told WADA officials that Russia’s doping problem was not simply individual athletes and coaches trying to get unfair advantages but a systemic, state-supported effort to cheat."
- 2011: Data collected by IAAF from 2001 indicates that "Country A" had an incidence of blood doping of 50% and possibly as high as 99%. The authors of that study were employed by WADA which also funded the study. They were thus aware of the identity of "Country A."
- 2012: Based on reporting from Nick Harris and Martha Kelner: "another source in Russia came forward to us, on condition of anonymity, and claimed that WADA – specifically three named WADA officials – had not only been told about Russian doping in 2012, but also been informed that Rodchenkov was party to the conspiracy."
- 2013: The Mail on Sunday expose: "almost two months of investigative work established beyond what seemed to be reasonable doubt that there was a state-sponsored doping programme in Russia... Furnished with these details and with corroborating evidence and offers of further assistance, the IAAF ignored us, the IOC said they’d come back to us and never did, and WADA said it wasn’t in their remit to act."
- 2013: WADA identifies manipulation going on at its Moscow lab, Rodchnkov thinks the gig is up: "I believed our day of reckoning had come" (from his Schmid affadavit). In the second Pound WADA IC report, it is noted that Russia was given a free pass of sorts: "despite the substandard performance of the [Moscow] laboratory, there was a distinct desire not to revoke the accreditation of the laboratory prior to the Sochi Olympics" (PDF). Rodchenkov observes: "This was another critical moment when the endemic corruption [ie, Russian doping scheme] should have been recognized, but we escaped it."
- 2013: WADA and IAAF attempt to bury an expert analysis that they commissioned on doping prevalence: "after a final draft of the study was submitted to the antidoping agency, the organization ultimately told the researchers they could not publish their findings at this time"
- 2015: WADA president Craig Reedie sends an email to Natalya Zhelanova, assisteant to Vitaly Mutko: "I wish to make it clear to you and to the Minister that there is no action being taken by WADA that is critical of the efforts which I know have been made, and are being made, to improve anti-doping efforts in Russia."
- 2016: On the WADA IC investigation reports, Jack Robertson, former WADA investigator said: "Craig Reedie, he had to be literally pressured into every investigation. Even the first one, he was reluctant despite the allegations, then the [German broadcaster] ARD documentary forced him into it."
The focus of the Russian doping scandal has been, understandably, on Russia. After the 2018 Olympics it is time to take a step back and take a look at WADA and the sports organizations that it supports. There are lessons to be learned here ... if we actually want to learn them.