Global Athlete calls on WADA chiefs to step down in light of fresh Russia claims

Global Athlete, the athlete-led movement for positive change, has called for the resignation of the World Anti-Doping Agency’s leadership after more concerns emerged over Russia.

Russia faces the prospect of being banned from the Olympics and blackballed from hosting major events, WADA’s compliance panel chair has said.

WADA said it would fast-track a “formal compliance procedure” to look into alleged “inconsistencies” in data handed over to the agency’s investigators. The Russians have been given three weeks to provide an explanation.

If substantiated, the results could trigger a fresh ban on Russian athletes for next year’s Tokyo Olympics as well as the country being unable to host major events.

In November 2015, the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) was declared non-compliant after a report highlighted systemic doping in Russian athletics.

Being able to access the data was one of the key conditions imposed as part of RUSADA being reinstated as compliant in September 2018.

An open letter on globalathlete.org, signed by its athlete representatives, including powerlifter Ali Jawad and cyclist Callum Skinner, reads: “Global Athlete calls on WADA’s President, Sir Craig Reedie, WADA’s Director General, Olivier Niggli and WADA’s Compliance Committee Chair, Jonathon (sic) Taylor to immediately resign from their positions.

“In September 2018 athletes of the world were vocal, clearly stating ‘No u-turn WADA’ when deciding whether to allow Russia back before fulfilling criteria in the Russian RoadMap.

“The Athletes’ voices were cast aside by these leaders as uneducated and misinformed.

“WADA caved to the pressure of Russia and the International Olympic Committee and now, as feared by athletes, Russia was not playing by the rules.”

The letter concludes: “The leadership at WADA has failed to protect clean athletes, failed to stop the continued corruption of the Olympic movement, failed to take decisive action to address systematic failures, failed to communicate with the athlete community, and failed to provide a credible path forward.

“The leadership is not fit for purpose. Therefore, we call for their immediate resignation or the termination of their contacts. The future of sport depends on it.”

The New York Times has reported that if the matter leads to a case in the Court of Arbitration for Sport and there is a negative ruling for Russia, it may prompt a suspension which could put at risk not only its Olympics participation but also its football team’s involvement in 2022 World Cup qualifiers.

WADA’s compliance panel chair Jonathan Taylor told BBC Sport on Monday: “In a case with a ‘critical non-compliance’, there is now a starting point for the sanctions that can go up and down, and they do include sanctions against RUSADA and options include no events hosted in Russia, and they do include no participation of Russian athletes in world championships and up to the Olympics.

“There’s evidence this data has been deleted. We need to understand from the Russian authorities what their explanation is.”

Data was retrieved by WADA investigators in January from the Moscow laboratory used by RUSADA. The data in question comes from a period between January 1, 2012 up to the end of August 2015.

RUSADA has been given three weeks to comment on the “inconsistencies” and to provide answers to a list of specific questions.

Once a response has been received and analysed, WADA’s intelligence and investigations department and independent forensic experts will report back to its compliance review committee, to decide whether further action was required.

The 2016 McLaren report found that Russia had been involved in state-sponsored, systemic doping across a range of Olympic sports for four years between 2011 and 2015.

Despite that, some Russian competitors were permitted to take part at the Rio Olympics in 2016 after the International Olympic Committee delegated responsibility to individual sports’ international federations to determine the eligibility of its athletes.

The International Paralympic Committee did ban all Russian competitors from the 2016 Rio Games.

Russian track and field stars remain barred by world athletics’ governing body the IAAF, which confirmed on Monday there had been no change in the status of the Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF).

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