Craig Reedie (GettyImages)
(ATR) Craig Reedie has defended the World Anti-Doping Agency’s decision to bring RUSADA back into the fold.
Fall-out from Russia’s state-sponsored doping scandal was the backdrop to symposium in Lausanne.Thursday and Friday. More than 900 delegates from the global anti-doping community attended.
Reedie used his keynote address to call for unity in stepping up the fight against doping. He insisted progress has been made since WADA’s September decision to reinstate the Russian Anti-Doping Agency as compliant with its code. RUSADA was suspended in 2015.
In January, the WADA president was criticized for allowing RUSADA to remain compliant, despite initially delaying access to data from its Moscow lab.
Reedie said that once the data recovered from the Moscow lab is authenticated, it will be used “to bring more cheats to justice while exonerating others”.
WADA has already said Russia faces “serious consequences” if the data analysed is not authentic or if it has been interfered with.
“In light of events that have occurred since the ExCo decision on RUSADA was made last September, it has been proven to be the right course of action,” he said.
“It is inarguable that accessing the laboratory data was a major step forward in this saga. Now we need to make sure this 24 terabytes of data is both complete and authentic.”
Reedie pointed to recent decisions from the Court of Arbitration for Sport that he said put into sharp focus and “reinforced the importance of ensuring that due process is followed and that evidence is carefully” – if anyone “had any doubts about the usefulness of the data”.
In his call for unity, the outgoing WADA chief said the agency could only make an impact in close collaboration with stakeholders who include athletes, national and regional anti-doping organizations, sports federations and governments.
Responding to criticism of his leadership over the past year or two, he said: “Division helps nobody except those trying to cheat. Unity will be our strength.”
He highlighted WADA’s enhanced intelligence and investigations activity and its whistleblower program, backed by 8% budget increases for 2019-22.
Other key highlights of the WADA symposium included a review of the organization’s code and its associated international standards; the revised code comes into effect in 2021. The document is currently being finalized for its ratification at the fifth World Conference on Doping in Sport in November in Katowice, Poland.
WADA was careful to give athletes a strong voice at the symposium, following concerns that they have not been widely consulted.
Around 75 athlete leaders from around the world took part in a one-and-a-half-day session for them and their representatives, hosted by WADA’s Athlete Committee.
It addressed topics such as increased athlete representation within WADA’s governance structure and the impact the proposed changes in the 2021 draft code may have on athletes.
WADA’s Athlete Committee members Beckie Scott and Ben Sandford updated delegates about progress on the development of the Anti-Doping Charter of Athlete Rights.
WADA director general Olivier Niggli discussed the body’s strategic priorities, which include harmonizing code rules via the 2021 code review, implementation of wide-ranging governance reforms and funding increasing scientific and social science research.
The three candidates to replace Reedie following his six-year presidency were lobbying for support on the sidelines of the symposium.
The new WADA chief will be chosen in November by the public authorities who part-fund the organization. The choice is among Poland's sports minister Witold Banka, WADA vice president Linda Helleland and Marcos Diaz of the Dominican Republic.
Reported by Mark Bisson
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