(ATR) The World Anti-Doping Agency board met today to approve key decisions as part of ongoing reforms.
The first was how the Independent Testing Authority would be staffed and operated. The ITA will consist of five members, according to WADA. The members will be an independent president, a representative from the IOC, a representative from international sport federations, an athlete, and an independent expert.
A “selection committee” will be put together by WADA to determine the members of the ITA.
After the damning McLaren report that highlighted a state sponsored doping system in Russia, sport officials have sought a more independent WADA as part of reform efforts. The IOC agreed to support an independent president of WADA, as well as the creation of the ITA after an emergency summit convened last year.
WADA says the ITA will be a "service provider” for stakeholders in the Olympic movement. Event organizers, federations, or others can use the ITA as a “pay-per-use” service.
United States Anti Doping President Travis Tygart said in a statement to Around the Rings
that the ITA is a step forward for a more independent WADA. However, how it is put together and implemented will matter greatly.
"For clean athletes, this is the first glimmer of hope after months of pushing for reform," Tygart said. "The devil will be in the details, of course, but it's an improvement on the status quo."
Along with the ITA, the WADA Board also approved the creation of the International Standard for Compliance with the hope of implementing both measures before the 2018 Olympics. The standards for compliance would allow for sanctioning of National Olympic Committees and international federations much like sanctions for doping violations according to an AP
The board’s vote will fast track implementation of the new compliance standards, allowing them to go into effect before the next revision of the WADA code in 2021.
Once put into place such rules could bar different NOCs, including Russia, from attending the 2018 Olympics. Currently, WADA does not have sanctioning power and can only declare different NOCs “non-compliant". It is then up to the IOC and other international federations to enforce sanctions, which are not always streamlined or unified.
Requests for comment from the Russian Olympic Committee about the new standards were not returned.
Russia was declared non-compliant by WADA ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympics, and the IOC ruled that each individual federation had the authority to bar athletes based on a set of criteria. In the end, more than one-third of the Russian delegation that had been initially qualified for the Rio Olympics was barred from competing.
The International Paralympic Committee barred the entire Russian delegation from attending the 2016 Paralympics for not being in line with the body’s doping code. An update on the Russian Paralympic Committee’s status is expected in the coming days from the IPC.
WADA Director General Rob Koehler also outlined progress being made by the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) on returning to compliance. Koehler said that RUSADA needed an independent chairman and vice-chair, a new conflict of interest policy, and access to "closed cities" and athletes biological samples.
Written by Aaron Bauer
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