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Wada lifts Russia’s three-year doping suspension and faces its biggest crisis

first_imgShare on Facebook news Topics The decision to welcome back the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (Rusada), which had been suspended since 2015, means Russia will be free to test its own athletes again and also issue Therapeutic Use Exemption certificates. It also makes it more likely that track and field athletes, as well as Paralympians, will compete under the Russia flag sooner rather than later, while the country is likely to start bidding for major sporting events again.Wada’s critics, however, remain furious it secretly moved the goalposts for Rusada’s return – especially as Russia has still not fully accepted it was running a huge state-sponsored doping programme.They are also angry the Wada president, Craig Reedie, and director general, Olivier Niggli, offered a secret compromise to the Russian sports minister, Pavel Kolobkov – which was only revealed when letters were leaked to the BBC – to make it easier for Rusada to be let back in. Support The Guardian Share on Twitter Wada appears to have complied with Russia – wasn’t it meant to be the other way round? Marina Hyde The Recap: sign up for the best of the Guardian’s sport coverage Share on WhatsApp Tygart of the US said the case showed Wada needs to be reformed so the International Olympic Committee – which funds and controls half of the organisation – is no longer involved in it. “The world’s athletes want a Wada with teeth, authority, sanctioning powerand the determination to get the job done of cleaning up sport and restoring the trust of the billions of sports fans and athletes worldwide,” he said. “Today, that job must start – and it starts by reforming Wada and giving it the power to regulate as any good global watchdog must do.”The former British javelin thrower Goldie Sayers, meanwhile, who won an Olympic bronze in 2008 after a Russian in front of her was found to have doped, reflected the thoughts of many athletes by saying she could not understand the rush for Rusada’s reinstatement.“If you are an individual that dopes you get a four‑year ban,” she told the Guardian. “But if you are a country that is complicit in a state-sponsored doping system you only get three years and a slap on the wrist.”Yuri Ganus, director-general of Rusada, said: “There’s a lot of work ahead. There are conditions … in order to definitively be reinstated we need to meet these conditions. So it’s a conditional reinstatement.”Beckie Scott, a former cross country skier from Canada who resigned from the Wada compliance review committee after it endorsed readmitting Rusada, said she was “profoundly disappointed” at the decision.Scott, who also lost out on a Winter Olympics medal to a Russian athlete who subsequently turned out to have doped, added: “I feel this was an opportunity for WADA and they have dealt a devastating blow to clean sport. I’m quite dismayed.” Read more Reedie insisted, however, the decision by its executive committee in the Seychelles was the right one. “Today we are in a much better position,” he said. “Wada understands this decision will not please everybody. When cheating is as rampant and as organised as it was in Russia it undermines so much of what sport stands for. But the pressure on Wada to ensure that Russian sport is genuinely clean now, and in the future, is one that we feel very keenly and we will maintain the highest levels of scrutiny on Rusada’s operations and independence.”When Rusada was suspended Wada insisted Russia had to accept the McLaren report – which found that more than 1,000 athletes across more than 30 sports were aided by state‑sponsored doping. It also insisted Russia had to allow access to the Moscow laboratory and the data contained therein so that hundreds of outstanding Russian doping cases could be prosecuted.However a compromise was agreed that allowed Russia to accept that “failings” were made by some figures in the ministry of sport – while it insisted independent expert access to the Moscow lab would be allowed at some point in the next six months. That was not good enough for Sapstead, who said fundamental questions remained unanswered in respect of the conditions for reinstatement of Russia.“Is the data from the Moscow laboratory still in existence?” she asked. “Can this data be verified as legitimate and uncorrupted? Will athlete samples needing reanalysis be provided? Will Wada’s analysis seek to clarify any evidence of tampering? If the conditions of reinstatement are not met and Russia faces non-compliance, will the goalposts be moved again?” Sign up to The Recap, our weekly email of editors’ picks. Russia doping scandal Read more Since you’re here… The World Anti-Doping Agency is facing the gravest crisis in its 19-year history after it was widely condemned by other members of the anti-doping community for a “bewildering” and “deeply troubling” decision to lift the suspension of Russia.Nicole Sapstead, the chief executive of UK Anti-Doping, said the move was premature and accused Wada of “casting aside its responsibilities to clean athletes, sports fans and those who work tirelessly for clean sport”. The US Anti-Doping chief executive, Travis Tygart, called the decision “bewildering and inexplicable” and a “devastating blow to the world’s clean athletes”.Jim Walden, lawyer for the Russian whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov, called it “the greatest treachery against clean athletes in Olympic history”. Share via Email Share on LinkedIn Wada … we have a small favour to ask. 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