Thursday, June 16, 2016

Some Nuggets from the November, 2015 WADA Foundation Board Meeting

In principle, the WADA Foundation Board is the body responsible for holding WADA accountable. Comprised of representatives from governments and sports bodies, the Board meets twice a year. Here are some excerpts from the most recently available minutes, published last month for the Board's November, 2015 meeting (here in PDF). There are some interesting nuggets in there.

Dick Pound on the work of the Independent Commission that he chair to look into claims made by the ARD documentary:
It was safe to say that the report was a turning point for WADA. It was the first time WADA had ever acted in that manner, and the first time there had been hard evidence of complicit behaviour that was contrary to the Code and standards.
Thanks to the NY Times yesterday, we know Pound's claim that this was the first time that "hard evidence" was available is incorrect. Here is how that article begins:
In December 2012, the World Anti-Doping Agency received an email from an Olympic athlete from Russia. She was asking for help.

The athlete, a discus thrower named Darya Pishchalnikova, had won a silver medal four months earlier at the London Olympics. She said that she had taken banned drugs at the direction of Russian sports and antidoping authorities and that she had information on systematic doping in her country. Please investigate, she implored the agency in the email, which was written in English.

“I want to cooperate with WADA,” the email said.
So was Pound in the dark or misleading the Board?

Speaking for the IOC, Professor Ugur Erdener, Member of the IOC and President, World Archery said of the report:
With respect to the Sochi 2014 laboratory, the IOC noted that the Independent Commission had not called into question the results of the Sochi Olympic Winter Games, which confirmed the report of the WADA Independent Observers relating to the Sochi Olympic Winter Games, as well as the report of the experts appointed by the IOC medical commission. Indeed, during the Sochi Olympic Games, four directors of leading WADA-accredited laboratories had been appointed by the IOC medical commission as experts for all of the operations at the Sochi laboratory. 
Whoops. We also now know, thanks to German paper FAZ, that the Sochi lab was indirectly referred to in the Pound report. Here is the relevant passage:
Edwin Moses, chair of the WADA Education Committee and also Chair of the USADA Board, made an extremely strong statement about the need to severely sanction Russia:
[B]efore there could be any talk of Russia becoming Code-compliant, there had to be a full-scale investigation into doping in every sport named by the whistle-blowers, and he congratulated the Independent Commission on going beyond the scope of the WADA report to insist on a protocol to work with whistle-blowers so that that kind of information could come out and whistle-blowers would be protected. Before any athlete who refused to cooperate with the Independent Commission was allowed to return to competition, they must be required to submit to interviews and undergo a rigorous and lengthy period of robust and independent testing.

Before there was any talk of Russia becoming Code-compliant, there had to be a detailed, well thought-out plan to reform RUSADA and prevent the possibility of future state-sponsored doping. The plan should be effectively implemented. There had to be a period of successful auditing and testing so as to be able to give the world’s athletes a guarantee that an effective and robust antidoping programme was operational in Russia, and that all of Russia’s elite athletes in all sports had been subjected to at least a six- to nine-month period of reliable testing and investigation. As for the sport of athletics, in which widespread and systematic doping had already been found, censure was not enough. The claim that RUSADA was non-compliant was merely words on paper. The only sanction that would send out the message that enough was enough and that WADA cared about that generation and future generations of athletes was to state loudly and clearly that the Russian athletics team could not go to Rio. 
Pound on scope of the doping problem:
[T]he Independent Commission had made it very clear that it did not think Russia was the only country with a problem and it did not think that athletics was the only sport with a problem.  
Pound on whistleblowers:
[W]hen it came to the whistle-blowers, WADA had not been as good as it should have been. He did not think that the Olympic Movement had not been as good as it should have been. The IFs, NOCs and NADOs had not been welcoming of whistle-blowers; in fact, the whistle-blowers tended to get worse treatment than the perpetrators. 
Beckie Scott, WADA's athlete representative and Canadian athlete, questioning the limited scope of Pound's investigation:
The individual members of the Athlete Committee had been approached by athletes who wondered why only athletics had been targeted as opposed to all sports. The Athlete Committee would like to make a very specific request that WADA expand the mandate of the Independent Commission to include all sports in Russia. It was a pivotal moment for WADA and a chance to really stand behind clean sport and the protection of clean athletes in all sports, not just athletics, and she really hoped that WADA would do the right thing. She felt that there were a lot of athletes watching and waiting, a lot of athletes worldwide in all sports who were really counting on the forces of the anti-doping movement to bring their full strength and resolve to the fight. WADA was at a crossroads, and she urged the members to please consider the athletes and the impact on sport as a whole and as a movement at that meeting as they made their decisions. 
In response to Scott, Sir Craig Reedie, President and Chairman of WADA, seems dismissive:
THE CHAIRMAN responded to the very last suggestion made. It would be quite difficult to agree round the table to investigate all sports all round the world. The issue of investigation and the part that that played in WADA’s operations going forward had clearly been made and it was up to WADA to work out its reaction to that and how it could be delivered. All he could do was thank Ms Scott for reinforcing the view expressed round the table, and he asked her to watch that space.
We are watching.


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